Mark Johnson

After months of controversy, legal maneuvering, Amplify Education awarded state’s K-3 reading assessment tool

BY: - June 3, 2021

Former state superintendent Mark Johnson ignited a firestorm of controversy a couple of years ago when he selected Istation to replace Amplify Education, Inc., as the provider of the state’s K-3 reading assessment tool. The move led to months of legal wrangling after Amplify appealed the decision with the Department of Information Technology. After it was all sorted out, school districts were allowed to choose from among five vendors […]

State Superintendent-elect Catherine Truitt: Where she stands on charters, the board and the NCAE

BY: - November 19, 2020

Truitt will have to rebuild trust with the state board, whose relationship with her predecessor was combative. Education in North Carolina has become “highly politicized” to the detriment of student achievement, says State Superintendent-elect Catherine Truitt.

Catherine Truitt to bring conservative leanings to superintendent’s post

BY: - November 4, 2020

Republican Catherine Truitt rode a conservative wave across North Carolina on Tuesday to become the state’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction. The chancellor of Western Governors University North Carolina defeated UNC-Greensboro professor Jen Mangrum with 51 percent of the vote.  Truitt will bring solid conservative credentials to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and the […]

Plagiarism, copyright infringement and “low rigor”: State Auditor gives lawmakers an earful about failings of NC Virtual Public School

BY: - September 3, 2020

A complaint lodged by John Scanlon and his family was the catalyst for a damning state audit that found courses offered by NCVirtual Public School lacked quality and rigor, and that educators hired to create content for an honor’s history course engaged in plagiarism and copyright infringement. The state Department of Public Instruction is the administrator for the school. State Auditor Beth Wood cited the family’s role in the investigation while presenting the findings to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee on Tuesday.



After “emergency” iStation purchase, who is Superintendent Mark Johnson working for?

BY: - January 13, 2020

Last week, Policy Watch’s Greg Childress reported the latest head-scratcher from N.C.’s Department of Public Instruction, where Superintendent Mark Johnson—a very loud lame duck, sort of—ordered the “emergency” purchase of nearly $1 million from iStation to continue offering its reading assessment technology. The purchase fell afoul of the decision-makers over at the state Department of […]

Istation hearing set for Tuesday

BY: - January 6, 2020

A hearing to determine whether to lift stays preventing the use of the Istation reading assessment tools in North Carolina classrooms has been set for Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., in Wake County Superior Court. Judge Mary Ann Tally of Fayetteville set the hearing for Tuesday so that she can read court documents to become familiar with the controversial case that dates to June when […]


Rogue state superintendent keeps breaking the law

BY: - November 13, 2019

The state schools superintendent keeps breaking the law. Strangely, nobody at the General Assembly seems to care. Similarly, the capital press corps has shown no interest in holding his rogue actions to account. Johnson’s lawbreaking centers around two rounds of iPad purchases, neither of which were conducted in accordance with state law. Johnson’s spending spree […]


Teacher: Amid IStation controversy, reading assessments “descended into confusion” across N.C.

BY: - September 9, 2019

A long, messy story keeps getting longer and messier. Readers of this site and the Charlotte teacher/advocate Justin Parmenter — an occasional Policy Watch contributor — are well aware of the ongoing IStation controversy. The contracting process for a K-3 literacy assessment tool has been thrown into turmoil amid claims that it was mishandled by […]

Amendment to Senate Bill 438 would allow local school districts decide whether to use Istation

BY: - July 23, 2019

Update: The Senate didn’t concur with the House on SB 438 that includes Meyer’s amendment to allow local school districts to select a reading assessment tool other than Istation. The bill now goes to conference committee for negotiations between House and Senate leaders. Local school districts could bypass the controversial Istation reading assessment program under […]


Looking for sense in Mark Johnson’s IStation saga? Look elsewhere.

BY: - July 15, 2019

Whatever you may think of North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson, the IStation saga makes zero sense. Zip. Zilch. Nada. My friends, this is “Waterworld” level bonkers, although Kevin Costner’s legendarily soggy sci-fi is making an unpleasant amount of sense in retrospect.   Charlotte advocate Justin Parmenter authored a tortuous rundown of the IStation proceedings this morning, […]

North Carolina to move forward with IStation but will delay using data for six months

BY: - June 28, 2019

The State Board of Education (SBE) on Friday agreed to move ahead with the implementation a new controversial reading diagnostic tool but will delay using any of the data gathered for six months. The SBE came to that decision about the new IStation program that will be used to measure student’s growth and progress in […]


Editorial: Supt. Mark Johnson’s new website “lies to and misleads North Carolinians”

BY: - May 6, 2019

This morning’s lead Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on reiterates and expands upon the analysis provided by education policy expert Kris Nordstrom last week on the main Policy Watch site (“Superintendent Johnson uses new website to gaslight educators”). The editorial (“N.C. education ‘transparency’ dashboard misleads, is fatally flawed”) explains how Johnson’s new site is anything […]