One underreported aspect of the mClass/Istation literacy assessment debacle has to do with NC Superintendent Mark Johnson’s misrepresentation of the cost of mClass.
Amplify, the curriculum and assessment company that produces mClass, filed an official protest of Johnson’s awarding of a multimillion dollar contract to Istation last week. In that protest letter, which may well be a precursor to litigation, Amplify’s attorneys noted the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction had informed the press of the previous $6.3 million cost of mClass but had failed to mention that the annual cost had been reduced 40% in their recent contract bid:
It appears to be an obvious attempt to mischaracterize the Istation purchase as a substantial cost savings. And it wasn’t an isolated incident.
On Monday, June 24, Superintendent Mark Johnson met with district superintendents for their quarterly meeting. Having already received some pointed questions about Istation from representatives of the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association the previous week, Johnson knew he’d be facing a tough crowd regarding his unilateral adoption of the computer-based K-3 literacy screener. He included this slide in his presentation to superintendents:
Note the glaring omission on Johnson’s “cost comparison” of the actual $3.75 million annual recurring cost proposed by Amplify for its mClass tool during the recently concluded procurement process.
It’s fair to wonder whether Superintendent Johnson similarly misrepresented the price of mClass when he presented his Istation decision to the State Board of Education for approval–and whether their vote might have been different had they known about the 40% cost reduction.