EXPOSED: DPI Awards Bid for Testing to Existing Common Core Vendor

Nearly three months past their own “approximate” deadline, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has finally decided on a testing vendor for the state assessments in Math and English. They did so with a “Notice of Intent to Award” letter that was dated today.

On September 12, 2016, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler notified the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) that North Dakota would be withdrawing from the SBAC effective June 30, 2017. The SBAC assessments are actually aligned with the controversial Common Core State Standards. This decision meant that the state would have an open bidding process to determine who would provide state assessments for grades 3-8 in Math and English going forward.

Back in May of this year, I wrote an article that the bidding process had begun on May 1st and proposals were due by June 14, 2017.

After the approximate deadline of July 7, 2017 for awarding the winning bid, I began inquiring about who the new vendor would be, only to find out that the process had been delayed. I wrote about that back in the middle of July. And in the weeks that followed I periodically checked in– only to find that the decision kept being put off.

In the July article, I explained that the reason this information was important was due in part to the fact that Kirsten Baesler and many in the Legislature have paraded around the state trying to convince people that Common Core no longer exists in North Dakota.

Baesler has intentionally attempted to deceive the public into believing that the state now has new “North Dakota standards, written by North Dakota teachers”. A statement that I have repeatedly repudiated here on The Minuteman and proved to be absolutely false in an article just last month .

I further explained in the July article that the possibility existed that the state’s “new” testing vendor really wouldn’t be new at all. And I can now confirm to you, with documentation obtained today, that this is indeed the case. DPI has awarded the bid to the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

You’re probably not familiar with AIR. Here is one description of them from Deb Herbage of the Opt Out Florida Network:

“With its inception in 1946, the American Institutes for Research is world famous for their social science and behavioral and psychological research… AIR is a non-profit company based in Washington, DC, and is the recipient of many contracts from the various states for their Common Core “state assessments,” whether it be signing a contract directly with a state Department of Education… or through the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) …” (Emphasis Added)

To put this more directly, AIR already provided the Common Core state assessments for North Dakota through SBAC. You can see that here with this screenshot I took today from the North Dakota State Assessment Portal(Click on “Test Administration):


According to someone I know in education – and as evidenced by the site itself – this is the portal that teachers have used in the past to log in and administer the so-called “Smarter Balanced Test” (i.e. Common Core aligned test) to their students. I’m certain you’ve noticed already, but look in the upper left corner at who provides the test.

Further proof of this can be found in this screenshot of an articledated July 29, 2016 listing the states and who their testing vendors are:


And if this isn’t enough evidence for you, just look at this article here that identifies AIR as “one of several contractors involved in Smarter Balanced, the other major Common Core testing consortium”. Or this article titled, “AIR Partners with Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to Create an Online Test Delivery System for States”— found on AIR’s own website from 2012.

Another aspect of this that I found fascinating has to do with the Evaluation Summary that determined who the bid would be awarded to. Out of the three companies listed on the evaluation, AIR actually scored second in “Technical Points” with 118.81. Questar was tops with 128.73. So, why did AIR end up being awarded the bid? Simple. Because they pulled ahead in total points with the lowest “Proposal Cost”. You can see it here:

In May I wrote the following:

“But some time this summer we will find out if the ‘new assessment system’ is as ‘new’ as the standards we now have. It may just be that we’ll have nothing new at all.”

Having proven as recently as last month that the “new” state standards aren’t really new at all, and now having the evidence to show that the “new” vendor isn’t really new at all, we finally have all the pieces to prove the on-going deception that has been perpetrated upon us by our very own Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Chief among those that took the lies hook, line, and sinker have been the vast majority of our state legislators. I wrote about this way back in April:

“In some way incomprehensible to me, Superintendent Kirsten Baesler has buffaloed a good number of state legislators into believing the deception … How can an otherwise intelligent legislator believe such a patently false claim? Is it misunderstanding? Laziness?” (Emphasis Added)

Whatever the reasons may be, here we are. Nothing has changed. And despite claims to the contrary by Kirsten Baesler following State and District Republican conventions in 2016, testimony during the recent Legislative Session, multiple interviews, and even her own writings; North Dakota still has the Common Core State Standards and the vendor that provides the Common Core aligned assessment to go with them.

I stand by my comments last month:

“The very least that I expect of any Superintendent of Public Instruction is to be transparent and honest. The fact that Kirsten Baesler has not been reflects poorly on the State of North Dakota, our Department of Public Instruction, and the Superintendent herself.”

Deception and arrogance– hallmarks of the person currently in charge of education in North Dakota.


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Notice of Intent to Award Letter




Evaluation Summary Document


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About T. Arthur Mason 341 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.