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I don’t even know where to start with this whole Istation fiasco. So much has already been written that I’ll hit the highlights and then point you to the articles and blogs. Special thanks to Justin Parmenter, a teacher and parent in Charlotte who has spent countless hours digging for information to better inform the public about the needs of our students and how Istation will not meet those needs.

The quick version is that as traditional schools dismissed and teachers were off for summer break, NC Superintendent Mark Johnson announced that he signed a multi-million dollar contract with Istation. This K-3 reading diagnostic instrument would replace mClass. Read more here as Justin Parmenter details several reasons why Istation is bad for our students including how Superintendent Johnson chose the tool against recommendations, poor timing, increased screen time, reduced human interaction, potential lack of correlation with state assessments, insufficient screening for dyslexia, and decreased student motivation.

Read more here about how much money has been spent on mClass (districts getting new kits last year - this was clearly a waste for one year if we were going to a new instrument) and what teachers think about having technology attempt to do what only a teacher can do effectively.

Read here about how NC Superintendent Mark Johnson and DPI attempt to pull down the blinds on Istation contract process amid rising public controversy and about how the NC Superintendent’s claim that Istation contract process is confidential is demonstrably false. Here’s the evidence. Also, read the protest letter that Amplify (the company that has been under contract with NC for mClass) sent the State.

Finally, read here about how the State Board of Education (SBE) denied the request of 88 school superintendents to delay the start of Istation for one year to give teachers time to get acclimated to the new instrument. Kudos to Wake County Public Schools Superintendent Moore who wrote another letter saying

Best practice suggests that assessments for young children should be administered in a one-on-one setting by the child’s teacher and in short segments over a period of several days or weeks. . . . An assessment that relies solely on technology, such as Istation, does not provide teachers with information that supports students’ early literacy skills and will negatively impact the most academically fragile.

Despite the pleas and explanations of how Istation is not developmentally appropriate, the SBE would only agree to delay use of data for six months. This means that teachers would start using Istation immediately but data collected would not be used in connection with teacher and school grading for 6 months. See the Superintendent’s presentation here.

So here’s the CALL TO ACTION: we need YOU -- everyone of YOU to call and email these people TODAY  to tell them two things: 1) Istation is not an acceptable tool for our students and 2) we need a full investigation of how the decision to procure for Istation was reached given the information that team members did not recommend Istation.

Email addresses:

mark.johnson@dpi.nc.gov

eric.davis@dpi.nc.gov

Phil.Berger@ncleg.net

tim.moore@ncleg.net

(NC Superintendent Mark Johnson, State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis, Senator Phil Berger, Representative Tim Moore)

In addition, contact your state legislators here, your local superintendent here (directory by last name), and your local school boards here. Also, don’t forget to contact your local school principal to express concerns.

Here are quick sample emails that you could copy and paste then personalize:


Superintendent Johnson,

As a parent, teacher, public school supporter, and taxpayer, I am concerned about the procurement process for Istation. People involved in the procurement process began to speak out after you chose Istation, and they are saying it is not the best choice. We are waiting for public records to be released to see how the instrument was chosen. You have ignored the advice of experts including teachers. Your job has been to advocate for the best interest of our public schools and you have failed to do this. We are anticipating the release of these public records and are waiting to see the next steps with the protest that Amplify filed.

Another concern is that a teacher interacting with students is a more accurate way to identify children who need more help in comparison to a child interacting with a screen. In addition, information provided so far about Istation shows that it is not an appropriate screener for dyslexia (as mandated by NC law).

Furthermore, a lot of money was put into new mClass kits for the 2018-2019 school year, and plans were already made by schools for 2019-2020 which provides a hardship as you waited so late to make the announcement. We sincerely hope that you will reconsider what is in the best interest of our students and move to delay the implementation of Istation for a year until more public questions can be answered.

Sincerely,

XXXXXX

[Legislators, Board of Education members].

As a parent, teacher, public school supporter, and taxpayer, I am concerned about the procurement process for Istation. People involved in the procurement process began to speak out after Istation was chosen, and they are saying it is not the best choice. We are waiting for public records to be released to see how the instrument was chosen. Superintendent Johnson seems to have ignored the advice of experts including teachers. We are anticipating the release of these public records and are waiting to see the next steps with the protest that Amplify filed.

Another concern is that a teacher interacting with students is a more accurate way to identify children who need more help in comparison to a child interacting with a screen. In addition, information provided so far about Istation shows that it is not an appropriate screener for dyslexia (as mandated by NC law).

Furthermore, a lot of money was put into new mClass kits for the 2018-2019 school year, and plans were already made by schools for 2019-2020 which provides a hardship as the contract announcement was not made until the end of the traditional school year. We sincerely hope that you will reconsider what is in the best interest of our students and take action to help delay the implementation of Istation for a year until more public questions can be answered.

[Local Superintendent],

Thank you for requesting a one year delay of Istation implementation. As a parent, teacher, public school supporter, and taxpayer, I am also concerned about giving teachers time to become familiar with the instrument before data is officially collected. However, my concerns go far beyond that. I am concerned about the procurement process for Istation. People involved in the procurement process began to speak out after Istation was chosen, and they are saying it is not the best choice. We are waiting for public records to be released to see how the instrument was chosen. Superintendent Johnson seems to have ignored the advice of experts including teachers. We are anticipating the release of these public records and are waiting to see the next steps with the protest that Amplify filed.

Another concern is that a teacher interacting with students is a more accurate way to identify children who need more help in comparison to a child interacting with a screen. In addition, information provided so far about Istation shows that it is not an appropriate screener for dyslexia (as mandated by NC law).

Furthermore, a lot of money was put into new mClass kits for the 2018-2019 school year, and plans were already made by schools for 2019-2020 which provides a hardship as the contract announcement was not made until the end of the traditional school year. We sincerely hope that you will continue to consider what is in the best interest of our students and take additional action to help delay the implementation of Istation for a year until more public questions can be answered.

Finally, let’s show Superintendent Johnson (and other public servants) that we are watching and submit a public records request related to the IStation procurement.

Sample text for the request: I am requesting records which show how the decision to contract with Imagination Station (Istation) for the NC K-3 reading diagnostics tool was reached including scoring criteria for tools, scores and/or rankings for each tool, and the final report generated by the committee including the recommendation to procure for an instrument.

Tags: (Education, Istation, State Superintendent, State Board of Education, NCGA, testing reform)

Disclaimer: Stamp NC Blue is not authorized by, financed by, or affiliated with any candidate or campaign. Questions? Contact info@stampncblue.org.

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