Opinion
Education Opinion

What Does The Google Investment in Renaissance Learning Mean?

By Tom Vander Ark — March 03, 2014 2 min read

Maybe like me, you asked yourself last week, what does the $40 million Google investment in Renaissance Learning mean? There are two implications of the big deal: personalized learning paths are rapidly
becoming a reality and the big guys will play a key role in innovation.

Renaissance Learning, valued at $1 billion in the transaction, is best known for Accelerated Reader and STAR assessments. Launched by Judi and Terry Paul in a central Wisconsin basement in 1984, the
company is focused on student learning progressions. Three months ago at a Google symposium I heard Chief Academic Officer Gene Kerns describe their aim to
provide “insight to teachers on what students are ready to learn.”

On the path to personalized learning, “There are two camps of companies,” according to CEO Jack Lynch, “companies that rely on data analytics to create
adaptive sequences, and companies like Renaissance providing insights to teacher who have a more holistic view of student progress.”

Lynch, a veteran of Pearson and Big Chalk, joined Renaissance 15 months ago. He was attracted to the teacher-centric company focus. Like Kerns, Lynch says,
“Teachers need to understand what a student knows.”

The company today owns one of the largest anonymized data sets on learning progress. Using this kind of data,
teachers can then create personalized learning plans for each student or class.

Big innovators.
Startups get all the love, but developing and scaling capabilities often takes capacity; and it often take a big partner to match up with the needs of a
big customer.

Renaissance is investing in R&D in student growth percentile (SGP), a growth measure developed by Damian Betebenner of the Center for Assessment ( NCIEA) and used by 23 states.

It doesn’t appear that Renaissance has a comprehensive platform strategy, at least not in the way I’ve described next-gen platforms. Lynch said, “the sequencing of
skills is really the platform.” He noted the company is content agnostic and is linking to widely used open content sources.

Kerns is excited about the potential of combining multiple measures of progress for every student every day--many of them embedded in learning experiences.
“We’re working on some new projects to do just this - platforms to collect additional data from more embedded/formative experiences and visual reporting
(dashboard) to bring that all together in a usable form for educators.”

Google for Education
continues to expand its offering of tools and programs for education. Renaissance initiated discussions with Google began last summer. Watch
for a back to school announcement of new jointly developed capabilities.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read