Another Wireless Wrinkle

In the most detailed news report yet on Wireless Generation’s relationship with the NJ DOE, Asbury Park Press reports that former Gov. Corzine’s administration first awarded the company a contract “through a special procurement that waived the regular bidding process.” As we began our Race To The Top adventure, former Ed. Comm. Lucille Davy solicited bids from 15 potential consultants and Wireless was chosen even though its $335K proposal was more than double the bid from everyone else.

And this was, apparently, not the only reward Wireless stood to reap. In Appendix C1 of our application entitled “Instructional Support Components” (see page 120 of this link), the text reads (hat tip johnmalkin),

Additionally, because open response images are captured for student work, the system will also capture any qualitative teacher feedback provided within the image capture area. When the system is unable to identify a response, the error resolution process discussed earlier is triggered. This process alerts operators to login to the system and resolve scanning/scoring errors, omitted marks, double bubbles and other similar data entry errors. (Note: Scanning hardware must be able to scan with a minimum resolution of 100 dpi and support TWAIN drivers in order to properly scan results, additionally, an internet connection must be available at any scanning site and there is no limit to the number of scanning sites permitted). At the end of a scanning session, the system automatically uploads the data to Wireless Generation central servers and system automatically scores the multiple choice, true/false, yes/no, multiple-select, matching and student gridded response items and calculates an assessment score including teachers’ grading for open response items. The data is stored and available for review on class and student summary reports.
In other words, if we win RTTT then Wireless Generation will be the hardware and software vendor for our student formative assessments.

All states used consultants for their applications, but did other states pledge yet-to-be-bid contracts to their RTTT consultants? Is there a conflict of interest when NJ's plan for education reform is vetted by vendors who would be competing for large state contracts?

In other RTTT news, NJ Spotlight's John Mooney has more details on NJEA’s “extensive mark-up of a draft of the application,” specifically the promise to not change the use of seniority in determining teacher lay-offs, and enthusiastic emails back from DOE officials. “One county superintendent wrote Brett Schundler, ‘YOU DID IT! CONGRATS!’”

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