Sylvan lands $125 million contract Company to provide drivers' tests in Britain


Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. said yesterday that it has won a $125 million contract to provide computerized drivers' tests in the United Kingdom.

Under the six-year deal with Britain's Driving Standards Agency, Baltimore-based Sylvan will operate 158 testing centers where would-be drivers in England, Scotland and Wales could take the written part of the test. More than 1 million people take the written test each year. Sylvan will not be involved in the driving portion of the examination.

"It's the largest testing contract we've won to date," said Sylvan spokeswoman Vickie Glazar.

Sylvan expects to begin delivering the DSA tests in January 2000. Until then, the written examinations will be conducted by the traditional paper-and-pencil method.

The contract, which ends in August 2004, will be carried out by Sylvan's British subsidiary, Sylvan Prometric Ltd. of London. The written tests had been provided by a British firm, Capita/DriveSafe. Glazar said the deal will not cause any increase in hiring at Sylvan's headquarters.

Sylvan Prometric operates testing centers in 80 countries, catering especially to foreign nationals who want to take American standardized tests.

DSA Chief Executive Bernard Herdan said in a statement, "Sylvan's vast experience in delivering computer-based testing programs in nearly every country and culture around the world gives us every confidence that our testing program is in capable hands."

Sylvan said it plans to employ more than 500 people in the United Kingdom within the next five years. The company has about 40 employees there.

The contract announcement helped send shares in Sylvan up $1 to close at $29.0625.

Pub Date: 12/01/98

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