DOE Shells Out $443,750 To UChicago Impact For 5Essentials Survey

The Delaware Department of Education is paying UChicago Impact, a non-profit owned by the University of Chicago, $443,750.00 for the 5Essentials Survey.  The work will be completed in a year.  This is all part of the Delaware School Success Framework, aka, the school report card.  How much time and resources has the DOE spent on this part of our ESEA flexibility waiver?  My biggest question is why the DOE pays so much money to outside vendors.  I’m sure their response would fall somewhere along the lines of “our Department can’t be biased with these things so we need an outside voice”, but if you look at the “partners” of UChicago Impact, the bias is already there.  They are all about the corporate education reform movement.  The questions in their 5Essentials Survey are extensive and intrusive in my opinion and I don’t see any benefit coming to schools with these.  It is just more ammunition for the DOE to blast teachers and schools.

While the scope of the work is vast, how can the DOE keep contracting with vendor after vendor with no oversight whatsoever by the state?  Yes, I’m sure this is in their budget, but why are they allowed to have such an extensive budget when the students of Delaware have to sit in bloated classrooms with limited resources?  This is a waste of money.  $443,000 for a survey?  Why are we making sure these education “fix it” companies are well-fed, but we can’t even do the same for our own citizens?  Delaware DOE, you are actually making the problem worse.  It almost seems like the Delaware DOE wants to have an elite “country club” status in education.  But they don’t realize how much they are starving Delaware schools of what they truly need.  Below is the contract with UChicago Impact and the Delaware DOE.

Delaware DOE & The 5Essentials Survey: More Intrusive Questions For Students, Teachers & Parents

The Delaware Department of Education is preparing to launch a survey unlike any other in the coming months.  The survey is a product of UChicago Impact, a non-profit company owned by the University of Chicago.  The survey, which is part of the Delaware School Success Framework (school report card), will have questions for students, teachers and parents to answer.  To say some of the questions are intrusive would be an understatement.  The part that offends me the most is this:

*Questions from the parent survey do not affect a school’s performance on the 5Essentials

Not to let the cat out of the bag so fast, but last week the DOE had a section for this on their website, but you couldn’t access any of the links.  I contacted their public information officer, Alison May, and advised her of this.  She emailed back and said it was supposed to be on their intranet for teachers.  But today, all the links were available.  So you can read the questions ahead of time and let me know what you think.

5Essentials 2016 Survey Questions

5Essentials Communication Kit for Delaware

5Essentials Phase 1 Training/Orientation for Delaware

When I emailed Alison May at the DOE about this last week, this was her response:

“The Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF) will include information to highlight performance across multiple domains. Based upon significant stakeholder feedback, information about school climate and culture will be provided through student, teacher and parent surveys. The Department recently selected the UChicago Impact, a nonprofit organization focused on K-12 education at the University of Chicago, as the state’s vendor to administer the surveys. UChicago Impact’s “5Essentials” (5E) is an evidence-based system designed to drive improvement in schools nationwide. Currently school administrators are signing up for a related training. So likely that is the restricted access. They likely can see that page when they sign into the site. I’ll alert the web folks that the tab should be on the intranet as well if it is confusing.”

A year ago, the United States Department of Education really pushed 5Essentials for survey use.  It looks like Delaware took the bait.  Oddly enough, I can find no contract for this company anywhere on the State Contract website, nor could I find any payments going to 5Essentials, Urban Education Institute, UChicago Impact or the University of Chicago.  So who is paying for this and who holds the contract?  In doing an exhaustive search, the contract number for this was DOE_2015-15SuccessSurvey_RFP, but it shows no awarded bidder under the Awarded Vendors or Awarded Contracts.  But we do know what was in the Request for Proposal (RFP) and who put in bids for it:

Delaware DOE School Success Survey RFP

Solicited Bids for Delaware DOE School Success Survey

So once again DOE, why is there no contract with this company for the public to see?  We have seen this before with contracts with American Institutes for Research in regards to DCAS and the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  When information like this is missing, it always makes me suspicious.  Sounds like Dr. Godowsky may want to look into why the DOE cherry-picks which contracts the public should see.  Interesting that the State of Delaware links to the bid website page in a section called “transparency”…