Outside Vendor’s Report On “Student Growth” Portion Of Teacher Evaluations In Delaware Sends Mixed Signals

The Delaware Department of Education sent out a bid solicitation on the DPAS-II teacher evaluation system in Delaware.  They wanted to know how teachers and administrators are doing with the student growth portion of the system, part of Component V.  To say the report gives more sides from the pro-testing crowd would be an understatement.  It is very hard for me to take these reports at face value when they ask a limited amount of questions.

What I find even more interesting is the fact that Research For Action, the vendor who created this report, is not listed as a current Delaware vendor, and there is no current contract or one that recently ended calling for such a report.  But the Delaware DOE paid this company $140,000 on 6/17/16, which is well over the threshold that would trigger a mandatory bid solicitation as required by Delaware state law.  In fact, a contract was signed a few months ago with American Institutes for Research (the current Smarter Balanced Assessment vendor in Delaware) to do a review of the DPAS-II system.  Research For Action is also not listed as a Cooperative contract vendor or a set-aside contractor in Delaware.

 

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Now I did find a contract with Research In Action that ended on 6/30/16 which did require an evaluation of DPAS-II.  Are these the same companies?  Since the report below shows them as Research For Action, I would assume they are.  The Delaware DOE did award a contract to Research For Action Inc. that went from 3/19/15 to 8/31/15 for the amount of $225,000.00.  Since the second awarded contract gave a fixed amount of $181,117.62, can someone at the Delaware DOE please tell me why we have already paid this company $450,742.04 for work that is $44,624.42 over the two contractual amounts?  Or is there, once again, some other contract hidden away on the state procurement website under yet another different name for this company?

I wish I could get paid over $450,000 to come out with a seven page “briefing” once every couple of years, interview a few teachers and administrators, and call it a day.  More DOE magic at work!  Or, as some call it, cash in the trash.  And we once again wonder why Delaware schools are underfunded (much more for this topic coming up on this blog).

The “briefing” is below:

 

DOE Can’t Pay Red Clay Priority Schools Money But They Can Pay Mass Insight Almost $2.5 Million Dollars?

Earlier in the summer, I received a letter sent from the Red Clay Consolidated School District to the Delaware Department of Education and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.  Red Clay was upset because they were not being given the promised amount designated to them for the priority schools.  The DOE responded shortly after, and I published both of them.  I have heard the situation has been resolved, but nothing has been made public.  In fact, I stumbled across an email from the DOE to Red Clay from last November strongly suggesting they would be sending $750,000 a year to each of the Red Clay priority schools.  But the bottom line for each school in Red Clay is around $366,000.00.

So where did all that “promised” funding go?  The way I see it, each priority school is short about $400,000 a year.  There are six priority schools.  That adds up to about $2.4 million dollars.  I wonder where oh where the DOE could have allocated that money too…If Red Clay somehow compromised with the DOE, I have yet to know about it.  But I ran across this little bit of information today.  The Delaware DOE is paying a company called Mass Insight $2,445,000.00 for three years worth of work with “turnaround school support”.  The contract for this disappeared on the state contract website for a little while, but it’s back now.  What’s interesting is the last time I looked there were only 3 bidders for the project when it was still up for bids.  By the time all was said and done, there were 13 bidders, and the last was Mass Insight and they got the contract.  Nothing suspicious three….

To see this whole saga play out, check out the original RFP for the School Turnaround contract….

And then take a look at the bidders.  It’s like a who’s who of education reform companies in that bunch!

Last, but definitely not least, the awarded contract letter.  Sent to the very last bidder at the last minute I’m sure!

Now if the name Mass Insight sounds familiar, that’s because DOE used them back in 2010 and 2011 when they first started labeling turnaround schools.  Back then they called them partnership zone schools, or PZ for short.  Mass Insight was controversial then, so much so that someone started a blog called Mass Inciter.  It was short-lived but you can still go to it if you Google them.

The DOE and their magic math.  They have Governor Markell and Coach Murphy make a big grandstand on the steps of Warner Elementary School a year ago and publicly name these six “failing” schools.  Emails I posted in a series of articles last Spring showed how the DOE had no clue about how to get “those schools”, so they worked like mad for over a month coming up with the exact formula to get them labeled as “priority schools”.  Jack gave his big speech, and promised $5 million dollars to six schools.  He never told us half of those funds were going to an outside vendor!  That’s just like the DOE and Markell.  Screw over the schools that need resources the most but make the districts feel like crap if they don’t comply.

So while the DOE spends $2.445 million dollars over the next three years, and that’s just on THIS contract, and these schools don’t get the funds they were promised, who can we blame then?  Jack will be gone.  Coach will be gone.  You can’t blame Godowsky, he wasn’t there when this went down.  Will a new Governor keep the whacky regime heading the different areas at DOE now? I doubt it.  You can only play pin the tail on Penny Schwinn so much, but she answers to someone.  But Mass Insight will still get their cash cause the State of Delaware signed a contract with them.  And we can’t waste the money, so let’s just spend it!

The legislators need to, pardon my French, get their heads out of their asses and actually get this DOE under control. Lord knows what kind of damage they can do in the next 16 months!  I’m getting tired of being the ONLY one finding out this information.  The legislators should be all over the DOE, but they aren’t.  The ones that do question the DOE get shunned by their own party!  This is Jack’s world, and us little peons are just living in it.  There must be something that can be done… oh yeah, there is and I’m about to do it!