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For the last three weeks, we've been posting about the #MarkJohnsonDebacle (read the background here, how Mark Johnson is not showing transparency here, and about how when some of the public records were finally released it appears that Mark Johnson chose Istation despite the team of experts recommending mClass here.)
Year round schools have already started and teachers have been left trying to figure out how to start the year without reliable beginning of year data to drive their instruction. Eighty-eight superintendents from across the state requested a year delay to work through issues like this (read more here). The request was denied and instead a six month delay was granted just for the use of data metrics (in other words, they won't use Istation for the school report cards and teacher evaluations until the middle of the year. However, they are expected to get trained and begin practicing with students).
There are so many problems with this. Perhaps the biggest problem is that we have reason to believe Istation is not the best tool, and there needs to be an investigation into the procurement because Istation was awarded the contract despite experts recommending mClass (the tool that was already being used and in which a lot of money and time has already been invested).
On Friday, a parent-led group met at Bicentennial Mall in Raleigh across from the legislature for a press conference calling for transparency and an investigation. The press conference was called by NC Families For School Testing Reform, but many parents, educators, and other advocates were there. Watch the press conference here courtesy of WRAL. Read the Press Release here which requests a one-year delay of Istation, links to their Open Letter to Mark Johnson on 7/9/19 co-signed by 350 individuals and by 17 organizations representing tens of thousands of North Carolinians, and calls for complete public disclosure of the procurement process, along with a full investigation by Attorney General Josh Stein and State Auditor Beth Wood.
If you are concerned about the procurement process, we suggest you submit an (anonymous) inquiry to State Auditor Beth Wood. https://www.ncauditor.net/pub42/Hotline.aspx Then contact your General Assembly members and ask for a #FullInvestigation into the #MarkJohnsonDebacle.
You can contact the co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, Representatives Horn and Johnson. See the example language below which was adapted from an email sent by NC Families For School Testing Reform.
Dear Representatives Horn and Johnson,
I am contacting you both as the co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee in hopes you can help in our quest to discover the truth and do what is best for all of NC's 1.5 million school children. We need your help in getting to the bottom of what is going on with the Istation procurement process with State Superintendent Mark Johnson that was announced on June 7th.
I have serous concerns about the Istation assessment itself and it's lack of ability to screen for dyslexia (per HB 149 2017 requirements). I am also concerned about the use of technology to replace educators in the assessments for our youngest readers as they learn to read as the Istation research is lacking on how well it actually works. I am also concerned about the procurement process and the two RFP committees that chose Amplify's mClass assessments over Istation twice, but then were cancelled and Johnson unilaterally decided on Istation instead. We know Istation founder Richard Collins and others associated with the company are huge campaign contributors, and we are concerned about possible unfair influence in the situation. We believe NC taxpayers deserve to know the full truth of what is going on. That's why we need your help!
Previously, NC Families for School Testing Reform sent Mark Johnson an Open Letter signed by 350 individuals and over 17 organizations representing tens of thousands of North Carolinians who are concerned like me, but he has yet to respond. Thus a Press Conference was held on Friday to further ask for a full investigation and delay in implementing Istation for the K-3 literacy assessments until the investigation concludes and teachers are given enough time to train on the new assessment.
The law firm Istation hired sent a group of teachers and other school personnel cease and desist letters, so it is clear they do not want us to keep searching into the situation. Thus we must continue looking to see what is going on. As tax payers and citizens of NC, we deserve to know the truth behind $8.3 Million dollars of state tax money being spent on a program that was not recommended.
Could your committee help the General Assembly figure out what is going on behind closed doors in the Department of Public Instruction? Here is the 166 page document that Johnson has released, but we know many more are missing and have no idea when/if he will release them despite the law requiring them to be released. Here are a few of the numerous articles about this situation that have been written recently.
Thank you for your time.
Tags: (Education, Istation, State Superintendent)
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