Education

Ravitch thumps Johnson, Istation over controversial contract award

State Superintendent Mark Johnson’s decision to award an $8.3 million K-3 reading assessment contract to Istation, even though selection committees ranked another vendor higher, is receiving national attention.

Noted educational policy analyst Diane Ravitch took Johnson — and Istation — to task Sunday on her blog, after the company threatened critics with legal action.

She also applauded Charlotte teacher Justin Parmenter for calling Johnson out on the controversial contract award.

Parmenter is one of the Istation critics who received “cease and desist” letters from an Istation attorney demanding that they stop making “false and misleading representations” about the company.

Here’s Ravitch’s short, but pointed post:

Under normal circumstances, when a teacher disagreed with the state education department’s decision to switch from one test to another, it would be called a difference of opinion. Under normal circumstances, when teachers called attention to the state chief’s decision to ignore the recommendations of his evaluation team and pick a different assessment, it would be treated as criticism and grounds for debate.

When NBCT teacher Justin Parmenter and two other teachers in North Carolina called out their state superintendent for disregarding the recommendation of his evaluation committee and for choosing a product they rejected, the corporation owning the winning product threatened legal action to silence the teachers.

The superintendent in this instance is Mark Johnson, ex-TFA. His classroom experience was limited to two years. His failure to defend his state’s teachers reveals his character.

Shame on the owners of iStation.

Shame on Mark Johnson.

Ravitch’s post was written two days after parents, educational advocates and others held a news conference to demand state education officials delay implementation of the controversial Istation K-3 reading assessment tool for one year.

They also asked Attorney General Josh Stein and State Auditor Beth Wood to investigate Superintendent Mark Johnson’s decision to award the contract to Istation after selection committees ranked Amplify’s mCLASS assessment above Istation.

One Comment


  1. JT TORRES

    July 26, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Why not bring up the FACT that the current solution was not a solution at all, but produced dismal results across the board? The saying goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Well that certainly does not apply in this case. Our students are way too valuable to not invest in. Especially regarding their education. After all, these are the kids that will be leading our country at some point. Why wouldn’t we try and make them more successful?

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