This Whole iStation Debacle Is The Fault Of One Person: Guess Who.

This is really Mark Johnson’s fault. Halfway through his last full school year as a state superintendent and teachers, students, and parents are left in doubt about the reading assessment diagnostic tool that is to be used to measure reading levels.

From NC Policy Watch:

Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Tally made no decision Tuesday in a hearing to lift legal restrictions on the use of Istation to assess the reading levels of North Carolina’s students in grades K-3.

Presiding in Wake County Superior Court, Tally, a visiting judge from Fayetteville, was not convinced she had jurisdiction to rule on the complex legal matter.

“Therefore, I’m not going to take any action whatsoever,” Tally said.

Tally’s remarks were directed at attorneys for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI), Istation and Amplify, a competing vendor who lost the state’s reading assessment contract to Istation in a controversial procurement process.

Her decision to not rule in the case has DPI looking for other options to provide students with the reading assessments mandated under the state’s Read to Achieve law.

That last sentence about having to look for other options? School calendars are hard to change. Tests sill have to be given and more glossy flyers distributed by DPI.

Johnson’s statement after the “no-decision” was not his usual whining and finger-pointing. In fact, it seemed a little mild.


What’s lost in all of this is the loss of what might be the greatest resource teachers have: time. That’s on top of loss of the money to “defend,” the loss of trust, and the grandstanding emails & statements from the state superintendent and iStation officials. Below are the statements from both the lead attorney for iStation and the President of iStation.

“The Judge, we believe, is simply wrong on the issue of jurisdiction, and in direct
contradiction to her judicial counterpart just last month. This contract protest is winding through unchartered territory not of Istation’s making- Istation was legally and appropriately awarded the assessment contract by the Department of Public Instruction in June.” – Kieran Shanahan, Istation attorney

“While the judge’s decision is disappointing, we eagerly await the decision on next steps by the Department of Public Instruction and remain undeterred in our ongoing mission to work cooperatively with DPI, students and families across the state. Istation has already assessed almost 60,000 students in the first several days since school started back in January – and more than 380,000 since the beginning of the current school year. We will continue to push for a final decision on this contract process because we believe that North Carolina’s families deserve to have their student’s results count moving forward – and that Istation will help the state’s students gain ground, as we have in other states and districts across the country.” – Ossa Fisher, President and COO, Istation

Interesting that when Shanahan mentions that iStation was “legally” awarded the contract over 200 days ago, he forgets to tell you that he and iStation have not been able to “legally” defend the “legality” of the procurement process. Kieran Shanahan has also given well over $150,000K in this state for GOP political campaigns, including to Phil Berger. It should further be noted that Shanahan is the NC Rep. Party Finance Chair. Fisher’s boss, Richard Collins, has donated to many of the same people. And he lives in Texas.

So while Johnson passes out more color, glossy flyers to students and parents, runs a campaign against a nonexistent deep-state, spends money for iPads, creates more websites for himself, sends out redundant emails, and keeps reminding us that he is a lawyer, teachers in NC will continue to do the job of teaching even when the biggest obstacles in their way are the very people who should be making it easier for them to perform their duties.