23 Jun 2022

RFP for Statewide Online Tutoring Program Vendor

The Pacific Library Partnership (PLP) is issuing this Request for Proposals (RFP) in partnership with the California State Library to provide a two-year online tutoring service program for all elementary and secondary school pupils through California’s local libraries. The purpose of this RFP is to solicit competitive proposals from vendors to provide online homework and tutoring assistance services for elementary and secondary students. The project is to provide academic support for California students through their local public libraries, at no cost to the students or their families. The tutoring service should be available at public libraries at the start of the 2022/23 school year.

The RFP can be viewed at https://www.plpinfo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/PLP_RFP_StatewideHomework-Helpv2.pdf

The RFP closes at 5 p.m. on July 20, 2022.

Answers to questions submitted to this RFP will be posted here as they are received. It will be the vendor’s responsibility to monitor this webpage for responses to questions.

RFP Questions and Answers:

  1. Can you share how much the California State Budget allotted for the budget of this opportunity?
    Answer: The full amount set aside for this program in the California State budget is $6,400,000 for two years of activity.
  2. In the library service area population, there are ~39M people (and around 6M K-12 students, according to pg. 1 of the RFP). To help our team better anticipate a proposed budget, can you share the current usage rates from across the state from previous years?
    Answer: The California State Library does not have current statewide usage rates, or rates from previous years. Each library jurisdiction has made its own decisions about online tutoring services. The California State Library has not previously spearheaded a statewide initiative in this program area in recent history.
  3. What system/platform does the library use?
    Answer: It is not clear from the question if this is asking what online homework and tutoring system/platform is being used, or what Integrated Library System/platform is being used (assuming this question is being asked regarding authenticating users). As noted in the RFP, there are 185 public library jurisdictions in California. There is no one unified online homework and tutoring platform being used. There are multiple vendors being used, and some libraries may not currently be offering this service. Libraries across the state use different Integrated Library Systems (ILS) to authenticate users. Vendors should be comfortable working with a wide variety of ILSs and should describe the authentication process(es) to be used.
  4. Would we need to use a traditional username/password or a more direct configuration such as SAML?
    Answer: In the RFP, Section D, Technical Requirements, Item iv lists the two required authentication methods (item a. and b.) In your RFP response please ensure you answer the questions required in this section, and noting any additional authentication available, and whether additional costs are associated with those methods.
  5. Many school districts in California, including SFUSD, begin in mid-August 2022. Considering the RFP and project timeline described on RFP pages 7 and 12, would PLP please specify the month (or target date range) by which the selected vendor(s) would be required to make available to students the online homework and tutoring services?
    Answer: The vendor should take into account the magnitude of this project, and provide, to the best of their ability, a timeline of activities, as noted in Section I, including a reasonable date to which they may begin making available to students the online homework and tutoring services. It is reasonable to include a phased approach. The submitted timeline will be considered as one of the rating rubrics.
  6. In addition to designated points of contract at PLP and the California State Library, would designated program administrators at each participating individual library in California also have access to the Vendor’s online reporting portal?
    Answer: In Section D, Item x, it notes … “Reports should be by library jurisdiction, and individual public libraries participating in this program that are serving as program administrators will be able to view their system statistics.” Each library should have their own portal and have access to their own statistics.
  7. Is Pricing Proposal C considered by PLP as a separate (optional) line item that can be added by PLP to Pricing Proposals A and B?
    Answer: No. Should a Vendor be chosen which currently has California Public Library customers, Vendor must bear all costs associated with any refunds or reimbursements or credits to their own customers. Vendor is not responsible for providing any refunds or reimbursements or credits to any library currently using an online homework help system that is not Vendor’s.
  8. Please clarify whether a selected vendor will be required to credit or refund only its own current individual subscribers (and not current subscribers of services to competitor vendors.)
    Answer: Vendor will be required to credit or refund only its own current individual subscribers and not current subscribers of services to competitor vendors.
  9. Is Pricing Proposal D considered by PLP to be separate (optional) line items that can be added by PLP to Pricing Proposals A and B?
    Answer: Yes, Pricing Proposal D are optional items that may be added to Pricing Proposals A and B.
  10. Is a vendor statement (included in the RFP response) that the vendor is not on the sanctions list considered to be sufficient for certification? If a statement included in the RFP is not sufficient to meet this requirement, please clarify what is required of a vendor to demonstrate it is not on a sanctions list?
    Answer: Vendor’s response in RFP stating they are not on the sanctions list is sufficient for certification.
  11. Would PLP please confirm that the selected online tutoring vendor would have at least 30 calendar days from contract award on August 12, 2022 to collaboratively plan, implement, and launch the statewide online tutoring services program?
    Answer: The vendor should take into account the magnitude of this project, and provide, to the best of their ability, a timeline of activities, as noted in Section I, including a reasonable date to which they may begin making available to students the online homework and tutoring services. It is reasonable to include a phased approach. Should the time line vary from the one listed in the Timeline for the Plan Development Process, it should be noted. It is understood that it is reasonable to allow planning and coordinating time with PLP and the State Library.
  12. (Acceptance/Rejection PLS reserves the right to reject any or all proposals; to negotiate any elements of a proposal; to conduct interviews at its sole discretion; and to solicit and/or select contractors for the program outside the scope of this RFP.) Does “PLS” refer to Pacific Library Partnership (PLP) or another entity?
    Answer: You are correct, PLS should be PLP.
  13. Considering the RFP and project timeline noted on RFP pages 7 and 12 and the various requested pricing proposals on RFP page 6, would participating libraries be known upon contract execution so that vendor would invoice PLP in total at the start of each contract year? If not, would vendor be required to invoice PLP multiple times per contract year, including a partial amount at contract execution for Year 1 and contract Year 2 start?
    Answer: It is understood that some libraries may be on a fiscal year schedule, where they may have been invoiced for FY 22-23 in July 2022. If the Vendor is chosen, and their customer chooses to join this initiative, and has not yet paid their invoice, they will transition over to this statewide contract. It is the intent of this project to very quickly provide the vendor with the list of participating libraries. It would be possible that, during this project, the vendor may invoice for libraries joining throughout the program, where the billing would take place on a monthly or quarterly basis, to be negotiated.
  14. Is the RFP asking for pricing for each individual library system found in Exhibit A?
    Answer: This is correct. Not all libraries may choose to sign up for the service when implemented, so individual pricing would allow for that possibility.
  15. If so, in addition to the per system pricing, can a vendor include an all-inclusive statewide quote for all CA public libraries?
    Answer: Vendor can include an additional all-inclusive statewide quote if desired, but per system pricing is mandatory.
  16. Under “B. Online Homework and Tutoring Support Services Requirements”, it is requested that these services be “available, at a minimum, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. PST, seven days a week”. Just to clarify, is live one-to-one tutoring requested to be available at a minimum during those hours (12 hours in total)? If so, since we are able to offer live tutoring during all hours of the day, would you prefer for us to provide a quote for live one-to-one tutoring that is available 24/7?
    Answer: Vendor can submit an additional quote for 24/7 service if available but should supply a quote for 12-hours of service to ensure quote is comparable to other Vendors.
  17. Does the California State Library have any interest in partnering with California schools, college, or universities to engage peer tutoring services?
    Answer: Section C, Item i, specifies that tutors must be “employees and/or contractors managed by the vendor.” Additionally, Section C, Item iii specifies tutors must be “screened and have cleared a rigorous background check prior to employment, undergone sufficient training, and regularly supervised.” These criteria must be met by any tutor utilized by the vendor.
  18. Is there an interest in allowing teachers or counselors at California schools to access the tutoring system in order to refer students to tutoring and direct the tutor on where focus?
    Answer: This RFP is for a patron-driven online tutoring platform with access provided through California public libraries. While it is expected for participating libraries to provide outreach about the service to California schools, teachers, and students, it is not expected or allowable that local instructors would have access to user information or influence over the service.
  19. While any number of libraries may already have an existing online tutoring provider, would there be an option to use the newly-awarded vendor alongside the incumbent provider–giving patrons more (or fresh) options, for example?
    Answer: Libraries may utilize the State awarded vendor at their discretion. Participation is not mandatory and there is no mandate to end existing services with other vendors. It is possible that a library could decide to maintain an existing vendor and implement services from the newly-awarded vendor.
  20. Is there an interest in allowing teachers at California schools to access math and English homework assignments that align to state standards and include a link to the online tutors? If there was an associated cost per student (free to teachers), would the State Library purchase access for the students or will the contract allow schools to piggyback and purchase student access?
    Answer: It is not expected or allowable that local instructors would have access to user information or influence over the service.
    Section H, Item v, specifies that “all pricing should be based on no limits to the number of sessions or users” which would disqualify a cost-per-student model.
  21. Speaking of piggyback, will other state agencies be allowed to piggyback off the contract awarded by this RFP? On a related note, if there is already a competitively-bid online tutoring RFP awarded by the Foundation for California Community Colleges that allows state agencies to piggyback, would that be of interest to the Pacific Library Partnership and California State Library?
    Answer: The vendor is to provide a tutoring service that can be accessed from inside of public library buildings and remotely from patrons of the library. The service only has to provide tutors with expertise in the k-12 California State Standards and school related coursework. No consideration will be given to the service’s ability to ‘piggyback’ on other state services and there are presently no plans to implement the project at that level.
  22. Are tutors required to have bachelor’s degrees?
    Answer: Section C, Item ii specifies that tutors must be “highly qualified and experienced in the content and grade levels they support,” but it does not specify a necessity for a bachelor’s degree.
  23. Section A, Item i, allows for the inclusion of libraries, schools, and other state agencies; may the same allowance apply to Section G?
    Answer: Please do not list any entities that are not a California public library. The RFP is for a service that will only be offered to California public libraries. This list is to ensure any existing agreements vendor currently has with public libraries can be appropriately addressed if vendor is awarded the contract.
  24. Might we be invited to present to a committee during this process, and if so, what are the potential dates for that engagement?
    Answer: Vendors will not be invited to meet with the rating committee. All relevant information must be in the written proposal.

Updated 7/11/2022