A North Carolina blogger known as Lady Liberty 1885 turned up an interesting letter from big-district superintendents taking Pearson to task over problems with the start-up of the PowerSchool data system.
"Delays in report cards, transcripts and attendance data have generated considerable negative attention from media, resulting in districts being blamed for poor implementation," says the Feb. 21 letter from 10 superintendents, including the leaders of CMS, Wake, Union and Gaston county schools. "... Public goodwill has been severely damaged. We need Pearson to accept responsibility for the challenges as we continue to address issues."
The superintendents ask Pearson to provide PowerSchool to N.C. districts at no charge next year, saying the product will eventually be a good one but the one-year rollout, which many of the district leaders predicted would fail, has been a mess. "We want a productive relationship with Pearson since the data system will be with us for many years," they say.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Heath Morrison said this week that Pearson's follow-up has been "very good," including a visit to Charlotte last week to meet with him and Chief Learning Services Officer Valerie Truesdale. (An email to the Pearson communications department has gotten no response.) "They acknowledged many of the issues we have discussed all year and have promised to help with issues we continue to have, such as not being able to print report cards recently," Morrison said in an email.
Philip Price, chief financial officer for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, agrees. "While I would not state that the larger school districts are completely happy at this time, I will state that we have addressed the items outlined in the posted letter (most prior to the date of that letter). As we progress through the implementation year, new issues do arise; but we are pleased that we are not experiencing repeat issues."
But don't hold your breath for that year of free service. The previously reported cost is $7.1 million a year. While Pearson may be forced to provide some type of refund if it fails to meet agreed-upon levels of service, the state Board of Education is asking for $6 million to cover the cost that would otherwise fall to districts and charter schools next year, Price said.
Here's Price's detailed explanation, for those who can follow it: