iStation’s “Aunt Becky” Moment

iStation sent yet another email to parents in North Carolina today just to remind them of how much iStation has to legitimize itself to the people of North Carolina.

Never mind that there is a stay in the implementation of iStation issued by the Department of Information Technology in effect (since August 20th).

Never mind that there still is a lot of ambiguity into how iStation received the contract in the first place.

However, today’s email seems a little more self-aggrandizing.

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Specifically it says,

 Istation, a national leader in education technology selected through a competitive bid process by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as the K-3 reading diagnostic assessment vendor beginning this school year, continues to work with North Carolina’s students and teachers in training and beginning the assessment process for the state.

Thousands of educators have been trained and Istation has already assessed the reading skills of over 215,000 K-3 students throughout the state. Nearly all school districts – 109 out of 116 – have begun assessing students.  

“We continue to move forward in North Carolina to ensure that all of the state’s schools are being trained on our program,” said Ossa Fisher, president of Istation. “I’m proud of our work in North Carolina. Despite confusion caused by the losing vendor’s protest, we are at almost 100 percent participation with school districts statewide. We will continue to stay focused to make sure all teachers and students have access to training in the months ahead.”

Istation for North Carolina was awarded the contract to serve as the state’s reading assessment tool for K-3 students – meeting all of the requirements of the state’s Read to Achieve Law and addressing all of the areas of Universal Screening, progress monitoring, rates of improvement and gap analysis. Istation also meets North Carolina’s dyslexia screening law, meaning the screening tools meet the initial screening criteria for those students who are at risk of dyslexia, as set by the state – the same criteria that the previous vendor had to meet. 

While the losing vendor continues to protest, Istation has agreed to continue to train North Carolina’s teachers free of charge until the issue is resolved by state agencies in the coming weeks to ensure that all teachers, staff and students in the state learn the program as the Beginning of Year (BOY) benchmark process has already begun.

It seems strange that a company would go to such length and spend so much money to “prove” that its product was selected by the most transparent of selection processes.

It seems strange that a company would have a specially placed “profile” in a major NC news outlet to “sell” itself to the people of this state.

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And it seems strange that three of the main people involved in helping procure the iStation “deal” have made political contributions to those close to Mark Johnson, mainly Phil Berger.

They are:

  • Richard H. Collins, CEO of iStation,
  • Doug Miskew, lobbyist in NC hired by iStation, and
  • Kieran Shanahan, legal counsel hired by iStation.

In fact, all of these strange “incidents” collide to create a strange coincidence: paying money to get admission into school(s) through a middle man based on “test scores.”

Sounds a lot like someone I know.

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