The Istation K-3 reading diagnostic tool has emerged as a clear favorite among North Carolina educators, after months of quarreling between State Superintendent Mark Johnson and critics who supported a competing assessment tool, Amplify’s mClass.
Approximately 30% of the state’s 116 school districts chose Istation to test student reading levels. A new à la carte system allows districts to select a reading assessment tool from a list of five approved vendors.
- Only 14.7% of the district’s selected Amplify, which had held the state contract before Johnson awarded it to Istation in June 2019. Amplify will serve 35,273, or 8.1%, of the state’s 433,774 students in grades K-3.
- Many districts — 41.4 % — chose IReady, equalling 143,367 students.
- And the balance, roughly a third, chose Istation, which will serve 159,342 students.
Johnson trumpeted the new selection process during a State Board of Education meeting Thursday. Previously, districts could only use the assessment tool selected by the NC Department of Public Instruction.
“I am pleased to report today that based on conversations I have had with other leaders, the nation is watching North Carolina with excitement because we have innovated in a way that others want to emulate,” Johnson said.
He also addressed the months of legal wrangling that ensued after he awarded the $8.3 million reading assessment contract to Istation. Amplify filed a protest with the NC Department of Information Technology charging that the contract was unfairly awarded to Istation.
“As you know, there has been so much unfortunate, unnecessary strife surrounding this issue, and that strife started with some bad acts of a few politically motivated bureaucrats who are no longer with DPI,” Johnson said.
Johnson contends the procurement process was tainted because evaluation committee members breached confidentiality and were biased in ways that tilted the selection process in Amplify’s favor.
He gave up his fight to keep Istation after the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close and federal and state lawmakers waived year-end assessments for the 2019-20 school year.
The state’s Read to Achieve law enacted to ensure students are reading on grade level by end of third grade requires a K-3 reading diagnostic tool is in place.