The State Board of Education (SBE) on Friday agreed to move ahead with the implementation a new controversial reading diagnostic tool but will delay using any of the data gathered for six months.
The SBE came to that decision about the new IStation program that will be used to measure student’s growth and progress in reading during a “special meeting” held via conference call.
School leaders across the state had called on State Superintendent Mark Johnson to request a delay in the implementation of IStation to properly train teachers.
The N.C. School Superintendents’ Association and members of the North Carolina Large District Consortium are among the educators who wanted to delay implementing IStation, and had asked that it be postponed for one year.
Here’s what the superintendent’s group wrote in a letter to Johnson:
“The Executive Board of the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association would like to ask that the General Assembly to delay the implementation of the new reading diagnostic tool for one year due to the short turnaround time in the teacher training schedule,” the group wrote.” A change in an assessment tool that has so much impact in the classroom would be a challenge, due to the late decision and announcement on June 7, 2019.”
The IStation program has been a source of controversy since Johnson announced that he’d signed a three-year contract with IStation to place it in all of North Carolina’s elementary schools.
The state has used the mClass reading screen provided by Amplify Education Inc., which, after losing the contract, asked the state to “suspend or terminate” the deal with Imagination Station, Inc. (IStation).
Amplify Education contends IStation hasn’t demonstrated accuracy in assessment outcomes, or identifying students with dyslexia and doesn’t use “developmentally appropriate practices” required by state law.
The issue has generated a lot of interest online, particular after Amy Jablonski, a former NCDPI employee and candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, criticized Johnson for “going against the advice of our educators and experts” when he chose IStation over mClass.
Meanwhile, IStation released a statement calling the Amplify’s protest “frivolous.”
“Their purpose is solely to cause unnecessary delay in the contract awarded to IStation,” the statement said. “The false and misleading statements that Amplify is publicly distributing are intended to harass and cause harm to our company after we were awarded the contract – fair and square – based on our product offerings and proven track record working with millions of students across the country.“