by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
According to a recent article in Carolina Journal by reporter Lindsay Marchello, the reading comprehension company, Istation, has sent cease-and-desist letters to three individuals who have publicly criticized the state’s decision to grant them a public school contract. Kieran Shanahan, Istation’s attorney, wrote in a statement:
“The cease and desist notices provided are a lawful and appropriate starting point to end the misinformation, set the record straight, protect Istation’s interests, and let the state move forward.”
The cease-and-desist letters come after a large controversy surrounding the state’s decision to grant Istation a contract as the state’s reading comprehension tool over the previously used Mclass by Amplify. Marchello describes the difference between the two comprehension tools:
Under Istation, students’ reading skills would be tested on computers, and a progress report would be printed out for the teacher. With Amplify’s Mclass, a student reads aloud to a teacher so the teacher can assess reading ability.
Amplify reportedly contests that Istation does not meet the state requirements under the law and is not developmentally suitable for young children. Following these statements, Marchello writes:
In a Facebook post, Amy Jablonski, a former DPI employee, claimed [Superintendent Mark] Johnson picked Istation over the contract evaluation committee’s recommendation to stick with Amplify. Jablonski is running to challenge Johnson for the state superintendent position.
DPI and Superintendent Johnson deny these claims. However, the committee’s recommendations were reportedly:
Six voting members recommended negotiating with Amplify, three with Istation, and one voting member recommended negotiating with both Amplify and Istation.
While the committee did score Mclass higher in categories such as “strength of references, proof of concept, substantial conformity to specifications, and desired specifications,” Istation beat Mclass in the cost-related categories.