Students across Oregon are busy taking state assessment tests, and 40 schools are using a Texas company’s program to boost their students’ scores.
For an average annual fee of about $1,500, the schools have signed with Study Island, a Dallas for-profit venture that promises its online test preparation program is based on Oregon standards and will boost test scores.
Teachers and principals at a number of schools in the state say they are excited about using the Study Island program, but the spread of the company to Oregon has raised some eyebrows at the state Department of Education.
Ed Dennis, deputy superintendent of Oregon schools, says some state education officials worry that confusion might arise that they have endorsed the program when they have not. He says that, as with any kind of student or professional development help, “Our caution is: Buyer beware.”
Study Island has offered state standards-based learning programs since 2000, starting in two states and doubling in size each year to serve about 13,000 schools, 380,000 teachers and 5.7 million students, says J.W. Marshall, the company’s marketing manager. He estimated that includes about 400 teachers and 16,000 students in Oregon.
He says schools use general funds, federal grants and private donations to pay for the program.