By guest blogger Leo Doran
A company focused on improving K-12 literacy through ed tech has struck a deal with the Washington Post that will give the provider access to dozens of breaking news stories weekly, and hundreds of stories in the newspaper’s archives.
LightSail, founded in 2012 and headquartered in New York City, says the partnership will allow the company to use its reading platform to deliver articles tailored to students’ with different skill levels.
The company says it currently serves over 700 schools nationally, and has nearly a quarter of a million student users.
Lightsail has licensed the rights to MetaMetric’s Lexile Framework, which the company’s CEO, Gideon Stein, calls “the gold standard” for resources that match students to texts appropriate for their skill level.
Stein says his software constantly re-evaluates students’ progress through formative reading comprehension assessments and word choice tasks interspersed throughout the texts.
To date the company had focused mostly on amassing a library of fiction and non-fiction books, but with the Washington Post partnership, LightSail users will have access to five Post stories selected by the company daily, and to 10 Kid’s Post stories per month (aimed at grades 3-8).
Unlike Newsela, which also has a partnership with the Post, LightSail does not rewrite its content for different grade levels. Instead, Stein says his product is focused on diagnosing a student’s grade level and then matching them to appropriate content.
Other organizations focused on reading and literacy have formed their own alliances with news organizations.
Last year, Curriculet, a digital-reading platform based in San Francisco, announced a partnership with USA Today that would allow teachers to use the platform to weave assessments and annotations into the newspaper’s stories. The goal is to build students’ literacy skills and civics knowledge.
Alan Shearer, editorial director of The Washington Post News Service and Syndicate, said the deal with LightSail made sense for both parties.
“We are pleased that schools across the country will receive Washington Post articles through the LightSail interactive platform,” Shearer said in a statement, “and that our content will support students’ education and encourage a love of reading.”
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.