Kaplan Educational Centers, owned by the Washington Post Co., is one of the most recognized names in education. Known mostly for its college preparation courses, Kaplan has in the past six years moved far beyond its traditional “cram” classes to create courses for younger children that rely heavily on computer technology.
In 1996, Kaplan’s then 31-year-old president, Jonathan Grayer, purchased Score Learning Corp., one of the leaders in offering math and reading tutorials to grade-school children. There are now 100 Score centers across the country, most located conveniently in shopping malls.
Score is now also available online at http://www.escore.com. The online tutorial is designed to supplement a parent’s activities with children by giving a parent ideas about how to extend a lesson. Grayer is sensitive to the criticism that these tutorials are increasing the intensity of already-competitive parents. “We’re not out there stoking the competitive fires of parents,” he told Forbes. “We’re trying to offer parents who want it the choice to help their kids do better rather than just feeling frustrated.”
Grayer now has his sights set on moving Kaplan aggressively into professional development courses by riding the wave generated by the education standards movement. The new Kaplan Learning Services division has developed teacher training courses, and it already has signed up several California school districts.
Meanwhile, Forbes reports that Kaplan has erased the gap between it and its major rival, Princeton Review, in the SAT-prep market by ending franchising arrangements at Kaplan education centers. By investing in hiring and training Kaplan employees, the company has much greater control over the content of its test prep courses and the quality of the teachers leading each course.