Is now really the time for North Carolina to give Istation $1.2 million?

*update: By an 8-2 vote, the State Board voted Friday to delay action on the contract*
At tomorrow’s 11 AM conference call meeting, the North Carolina State Board of Education appears set to take another look at Superintendent Mark Johnson’s proposal to extend Istation’s contract to provide the state’s K-3 reading assessment through the end of July at a cost of $1.2 million. 

Last week the board chose to delay action on the contract after board members raised questions about the “significantly escalated cost” of the tool and the wisdom of spending $1.2 million taxpayer dollars for this purpose at this particular time.

The current Istation contract is set to end on March 31, so the board may be forced to make a decision tomorrow.  

Here are some important factors to consider:

➡ On Monday the board unanimously voted to apply for a waiver for federal standardized testing requirements.  Testing will not be happening this year, despite legislative mandates that require them under normal circumstances.    

➡ No testing almost certainly means no EVAAS, so the use of Istation for collecting data to inform those value added measures is irrelevant.

➡ North Carolina, like every other state in the nation, is facing an unprecedented health disaster which will likely result in devastating economic impacts.  Indeed, the agenda item immediately following the contract approval vote is discussion about how $50 million that Governor Cooper just approved in school funding flexibility will be distributed in the face of the COVID pandemic. 

➡ Many ed tech companies are currently offering their products at no cost in an effort to support teachers and students at a time of grave economic uncertainty and widespread school closures.  You can see a comprehensive list of those resources at Tech for Learners, a site set up to help educators “confront challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19.”  I was not able to find Istation listed there.

Here’s hoping that our state board will exercise prudence when deciding how to use significant taxpayer funds at this time of crisis.

You can listen to the livestream of the state board meeting beginning at 11 AM here:

6 thoughts on “Is now really the time for North Carolina to give Istation $1.2 million?

  1. Poll the teachers and allow for a comment section of why we KNOW it’s not appropriate for assessing our students. We are the ones forced to assess. If the public saw the questions, students are being asked or the supposed best ways to assess foundational skills they’d be shocked that millions were spent to determine how students’ strengths and weaknesses.

  2. Definitely not wise to put money, 1.2 million dollars, into this program. Many parents have shown dismay in to how anxious children are using this program.. Please discontinue program!

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