State evaluators receive a glowing evaluation

The Legislature’s auditing arm received a national award for a pair of reports on troubled education projects.

The American Evaluation Association honored Idaho’s Office of Performance Evaluations this month for its audits of Idaho’s troubled K–12 statewide longitudinal data system and a failed instructional management system.

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Office of Performance Evaluations Director Rakesh Mohan, left, discusses a report on the state’s longitudinal student data system during a 2015 legislative hearing. At center is Sen. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise; at right is Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston.

Both reports created a stir around the Statehouse.

The 2015 report on the longitudinal system, the Idaho System for Educational Excellence, said the four-year, $12 million rollout was beset by problems that could have been foreseen from other projects.

Weeks later, auditors said the state had squandered $61 million on the ill-conceived statewide instructional management system, known as Schoolnet. State superintendent Sherri Ybarra has since dismantled the project, launched by her predecessor, Tom Luna.

“By recognizing our evaluation with such a prestigious award, the American Evaluation Society has reinforced my belief that policymakers, program managers, and evaluators must genuinely engage stakeholders in policy formulation and program design, implementation, and evaluation for programs to be effective,” OPE director Rakesh Mohan said in a news release.

OPE, a nonpartisan and independent auditing arm, conducts investigations on lawmakers’ behalf, at the request of the bipartisan Joint Legislative Oversight Committee.

Disclosure: Schoolnet was funded in part through a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, which also funds Idaho Education News.