Parents, teachers call for investigation into NC Superintendent Mark Johnson

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Controversy is growing over a new plan to assess student reading skills in North Carolina Schools.

Starting this school year teachers will switch to a new program called Istation. The new program uses computers to assess student reading levels and eliminates the need for teachers to listen to students read aloud.

Supporters say Istation will give teachers more time for classroom instruction.

Critics, like 3rd grade teacher Paula Dinga, say one-on-one assessments are vital.

"I have seen too many students lose their motivation and confidence, even their attention span during online assessments and the results were disastrous," Dinga said. Dinga was among a group of educators and parents who gathered at the state legislation to speak against Istation on Friday. They say the program implementation should be delayed by at least one year.

SEE ALSO: Controversy comes with NC's new K-5 reading assessment tool

Critics are also questioning the decision to make the switch.

Records show an evaluation committee scored another system higher than Istation. Suzanne Miller with the group NC Families for School Testing Reform says the organization is asking state lawmakers, the attorney general, and the state auditor to investigate State Superintendent Mark Johnson and the Department of Public Instruction.

"We are concerned that the recommendations of two separate evaluation committees were ignored. Taxpayers have a right to know about the contract award process that led to this decision," Miller said.
We reached out to Superintendent Johnson and the DPI for a comment. A spokesperson responded with a statement saying, "DPI and the Superintendent have followed and continue to follow all applicable laws, policies, and rules related to this procurement process. Yesterday, as part of that process, DPI met with the losing vendor as per their request. The next step in this process will be the Superintendent's response, which will be issued between now and July 28."

A spokesperson from Attorney General Josh Stein's office said they are reviewing the request to look into this matter. State Auditor Beth Wood's office said it does not confirm or deny audit topics prior to the release of any report.
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