California’s New Ed-Tech Consortium Is Growing Fast — and Making Awards

Associate Editor

The Education Technology Joint Powers Authority, a purchasing consortium of school districts in California, has been busy awarding contracts over the past several months—21 in five product areas.

This is at a time when the new organization is growing even faster than it had planned. It now has 25 member districts and offices of education, representing 500,000 students in the state—a prized market for ed-tech companies.

The consortium was formed by four school districts just over a year ago in an effort to improve the pricing and responsiveness of vendors on RFPs for administrative tools and platforms that are widely used in school systems.

The JPA’s goal had been to reach its current size by June 30th this year, but it’s six months ahead of schedule, said Brianne Ford, the president of the board of the JPA. She’s also the chief technology officer for the 35,000-student Irvine Unified School District, one of the founding districts of the group.

“We had our official debut at the CITE (California IT in Education) conference in November, and since then, we’ve grown rapidly,” she said.

Capistrano Unified, Clovis Unified, and Fullerton Unified—the other co-founders—have been joined by 20 districts and county offices of education as associate members. They range from Burbank Unified to San Diego Unified. One more county office of education will be added soon, Ford said.

Vendors in education have been receptive to what the JPA represents, said Ford.

“Those who are primarily in the public sector on the education or government side — it takes about 30 seconds to convince them about the value of it,” she said.

Those companies typically may spend six months on a single procurement and then have only three months to implement their products, she said. They see the benefits of completing a procurement in one month and having eight months to focus on implementation.

The first three RFPs for which contracts were awarded were for a nutrition management solution, a learning management system and a notification system.

“In just this short time since JPA was established, there have been eight uses of contracts that we know of in those categories,” Ford said.

Most Recent Contracts Awarded

In five ed-tech categories where contracts were awarded since late October 2019, the most proposals received were for an educational intelligence and analytics solution. Of 11 companies that responded to the RFP, seven were awarded contracts.

For each of the four other categories—assessment platform, help desk system, student information system, and mobile device management—every vendor who responded to the RFP met the minimum requirements and was awarded a contract.

JPA “contract awarded” decisions are made by reviewing a comprehensive scoring sheet and determining which sections to award to each vendor, said Michelle Bennett, the JPA’s procurement and IT contracts specialist, in an email. Not all companies receive a full award.

Here are the companies that received contracts in each of the five recent RFPs.

Educational Intelligence and Analytics Solution

The following companies received awards in this category:

  • Certica Solutions Inc.
  • DecisionEd Group Inc.
  • Hoonuit I, LLC
  • Innive, Inc.
  • Mentoring Minds, L.P. (SchoolSpire originally responded to the RFP, and was subsequently acquired by Mentoring Minds)
  • Renaissance Learning, Inc. (Schoolzilla PBC originally responded to the RFP, and was subsequently acquired by Renaissance Learning)
  • Scantron Corporation

This table shows in what areas each company’s proposal met the requirements of the RFP in each category. A failure in a section means that the vendor did not fully qualify for all essential requirements defined in that section of the RFP, according to the JPA’s website.

Assessment Platform

Seven companies were awarded contracts in this category. They are:

  • Edcite Inc.
  • Snapwiz Inc. dba Edulastic
  • Illuminate Education Inc.
  • Instructure Inc.
  • NCS Pearson Inc.
  • Schoology Inc. (subsequently acquired by PowerSchool)
  • Mentoring Minds, L.P.

All vendors in this category met the full requirements of the RFP, including general/user experience; assessment and items; collaboration, and data and reports.

Help Desk System

Three companies responded in this category, and each was awarded a contract. They are:

  • Hayes Software Systems
  • Ivanti Inc.
  • TeamDynamix Solutions, LLC

How each vendor met the requirements in seven modules of the RFP is detailed here.

Student Information System

Three companies were awarded contracts based on this RFP. They are:

  • Aeries Software, Inc., dba Eagle Software
  • Edupoint Educational Systems, LLC
  • Follett School Solutions, Inc.

All companies fully met the 11 requirements of the RFP, as indicated here.

Mobile Device Management

One vendor responded to this RFP and was awarded the contract, with two different products for Apple iOS device management and MacOS device management.

  • JAMF Holdings Inc. & Subsidiaries, dba Jamf Software LLC for the Jamf Pro Product
  • JAMF Holdings Inc. & Subsidiaries, dba Jamf Software LLC for the Jamf School Product

More information is available here.

Coming Up: College- and Career-Planning

This spring, the JPA expects to issue an RFP for a media repository solution and another one for a college- and career-planning platform.

The consortium plans to launch procurements this summer for a facilities and resource management platform, as well as a platform to track absences and place substitute teachers.

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