This Is Bad! DOE Picks Public Consulting Group To Handle Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities!!!

The Delaware Department of Education has contracted with Public Consulting Group to be the vendor for Governor Markell’s “suggested” Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities.  Who is Public Consulting Group?  I was all over them last summer when I saw over $400,000 pouring out of the DOE to this company.  They handle the Medicaid Reimbursement for service providers that help out students with disabilities in schools.  People like occupational therapists, psychologists, etc.  If a disabled student is on the state Medicaid plan, Medicaid actually reimburses school districts and charters for those providers.  On paper, it looks great!  The state gets back a lot of money from this.  But the data that goes out to PCG and the DOE during this process is truly frightening!

This company caught my eye a year ago when I was just doing a random search at the money pouring out of the DOE on Delaware Online Checkbook.  I noticed a hell of a lot of cash going to this one company.  As a result, I wrote three articles on PCG that truly became scarier with each one.  PCG has been busy in Delaware lately.  They also bid for the Delaware Report Card Survey, but that contract was awarded to Tembo Inc., out of Philadelphia (they did the very controversial Teach For America report the legislators wanted last year.  Tembo also won the bid for the Report Card Portal contract).  While their financial award for doing this work on the SREO initiative is ONLY $70,000.00 for the next year, I don’t buy DOE’s claim that they are contracting this out so they don’t look biased.  This company already has their hands on a lot of data with Delaware students…

If you read the below RFP for this, the truly horrifying part comes in this one sentence: Data will be available from the state’s longitudinal data system.  So we are going to let a company that already has their hands on actual notes from psychologists into the whole DOE data system?  Are they out of their minds?

This is a company that did the same Medicaid program for New Jersey and if you read the third article on PCG I wrote last year, it shows how New Jersey had some FERPA issues with PCG.  As well, PCG developed the entire data longitudinal system for New Jersey, so they have access to that whole system as well.  And they even set up a system to profile students with their “early warning system”.  What every student needs, the ability to be tracked on a data system to see how you turn out!  Big brother isn’t just watching you, he’s controlling your future now!

It is insane that our DOE and Governor Markell allow so much of children’s data into the hands of outside companies.  As well, if you go to PCG’s website, you can see they are dipping into personalized learning and other online initiatives.  So not only does this company have the keys to get into data systems but they are also developing data systems.  Should one company have this much power?  Probably not, but I’m sure the knuckleheads at the DOE don’t even think of this kind of stuff…

Delaware DOE’s Report Card Survey: Very Interesting Bidders for This Contract….

“Information to be included on the Snapshot Report Card will be informed by feedback on a public statewide survey, statewide focus groups, and stakeholder committee feedback, with the final approval of the Secretary of Education.”

The Delaware Department of Education put out a bidder request for contract DOE2015-16 last month, and the bidding has already closed as of June 3rd.  The potential vendors for this school accountability initiative have been made public, and they are Diamond Technologies, Tembo Inc., and Public Consulting Group.

Diamond Technologies is used to working with Delaware state agencies, including work done with the Division of Unemployment Insurance, and even the Delaware DOE, under Secretary Lillian Lowery.  Their previous work with the DOE included an update to the DOE’s digital scholarship information.

Tembo Inc.’s last contract with the DOE was an effectiveness report on Teach For America in Delaware.  This controversial report drew the ire of State Rep. John Kowalko at a House Education Committee meeting last February.  The results of the report led to legislation already signed by Governor Markell extending Teach For America in Delaware for another three years.

Certainly no stranger to Exceptional Delaware, I wrote extensively about Public Consulting Group, otherwise known as PCG, last summer.  They are the contracted vendor with the DOE and the Department of Health and Human Services for the Medicaid reimbursement program.  This is a company with many controversial issues around data collection.

The Report Card Survey is based on the DOE’s ESEA Flex Waiver with the US DOE, which hasn’t even been signed off on yet by them.  This school accountability system would allow parents to see a letter grade for each Delaware school, just as students receive letter grades of A-F.  I will come right out and say I do not trust any survey the DOE creates or has a hand in.  Furthermore, this survey is based on standardized test scores in part.  If students are already expected to do bad on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, will parents know enough to differentiate the issues with standardized testing and how their child actually learns in school?

The main areas of the school report card will be the following: academic achievement defined by the DOE as standardized test scores and overall growth on these assessments, college and career readiness, chronic absenteeism, and how many students are on a graduation track.  That’s it.  Nothing about special education, community outreach, school climate, bullying, discipline, cleanliness, or anything else.  Just everything tied to the Smarter Balanced Assessment and throwing in chronic absenteeism just for kicks.

To view the DOE’s bid proposal, please go here: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_15016ReportCard_RFP.pdf

To view the DOE’s list of bidders for this contract, please go here: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_15016_PR.pdf