Procurement of education services isn’t usually a topic that garners lots of interest, but it’s an untapped lever for achieving improved student performance outcomes. Right now, billions of federal dollars are headed to education vendors to provide learning recovery, summer enrichment, and school year tutoring programs. By implementing several key practices in the procurement process, districts have an opportunity to change how procurement is done and to maximize desired outcomes.
- Gather the right people – including staff with program and evaluation/data expertise
- Define the need, desired program, and expectations of what you want the vendor to do and what outcomes you expect to achieve
- Identify how success will be measured – both progress and impact measures
- Define the available budget and financial contract models (see #8 below)
- Recruit and identify potential vendors – thinking through submission logistics to improve the quality of vendors, and to broaden the pool of potential vendors (i.e. electronic delivery of RFP response, sufficient time to respond, etc)
- Review and assess proposals fairly and objectively
- Check references!
- Determine the cost structure – encouraging vendors use performance or success contracts to incentivize meeting or exceeding expected outcomes
- Monitor progress throughout the life of a contract – the work doesn’t end when a contract is signed
- Evaluate the effectiveness of a vendor’s services – then determine if their work should be replicated in future years, scaled up, or not renewed
The above steps, and more, are described in detail in a new brief from the National Comprehensive Center – Promising Procurement Practices to Maximize Learning Recovery. In addition, if you’d like to see some examples of RFPs that LEAs have issued and what SEAs are doing to support LEAs in this area. The procurement process is an underutilized leverage point in achieving desired education outcomes. LEAs have an opportunity to use learning recovery funds as a catalyst for reforming procurement processes to effectively and efficiently use taxpayer’s dollars, while ensuring that students receive the supports and services they deserve and need to thrive.