Education

NC 'must halt its implementation' of contract with new K-3 reading company

Posted August 20, 2019 8:59 p.m. EDT
Updated August 21, 2019 5:50 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina's new K-3 reading assessment company, Istation, "must halt its implementation" while the state Department of Information Technology reviews the contract. The company's competitor, Amplify, which was not chosen for the multimillion dollar contract, announced the news Tuesday night.

“We learned today our motion to stay the K-3 reading assessment contract award to Istation has been granted by the NC Department of Information Technology," Amplify CEO Larry Berger said in a statement. "This decision means that Istation must halt its implementation while the proceeding is pending with DIT. We look forward to working with the NC Department of Public Instruction and DIT to ensure that all educators in the state have the critical opportunity to understand their students’ reading development at the beginning of the school year, just as they have in the past."

WRAL News has reached out to the state superintendent's office, Istation and DIT for comment. Tuesday night, State Superintendent Mark Johnson released this statement:

“Istation is the best reading diagnostic tool for teachers, students, and parents. There were problems with the procurement process, but the final decision was fair, objective, and followed all rules, policies, and laws. This has been clearly detailed in a public letter.

"I am disappointed in this stay as it sows unnecessary confusion for our educators just as the school year starts but am confident that the decision the State Board and I made in support of a positive change will stand.”

Johnson previously denied Amplify's appeal. Johnson has said he stands by the decision to choose Istation for the contract, a decision that has prompted some educators and Senate Democrats to call for an investigation and review of the procurement process.

After the state superintendent denied the appeal, Amplify filed a Request for Administrative Hearing with DIT.

Teachers across the state are already training on the new Istation assessment ​software. The State Board of Education delayed data collection until next year to give teachers more time to get comfortable with the new technology.