How Mississippi is prioritizing student learning and safety

COVID has undeniably changed education, and as schools, districts, and states move forward with educating students in a new reality, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) is focusing on student learning and student safety.

MDE is investing up to $49 million of its American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III funds in four new services to support student safety and learning statewide.

“These student and school support services will help all district and school leaders manage the challenges of the pandemic and help students accelerate their learning,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Along with a system to make schools safer, we are offering districts services that will give students access to high-quality content, college and career planning tools, and live tutors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”…Read More

New York State Education Department Approves IXL’s Real-Time Diagnostic to Assess K-12 students

SAN MATEO, Calif.  — IXL, the personalized learning platform used by more than 13 million students, announced that the New York State Education Department (NYSED) has added IXL’s Real-Time Diagnostic to its list of approved assessments. All schools and districts in New York can now use the diagnostic to more accurately track student progress and teacher effectiveness, as required by state regulations. IXL is used by nearly 30 percent of all K-12 students in New York, accounting for approximately 900,000 learners.

New York evaluates the impact educators, schools and districts have on student achievement through Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPRs). SLOs are ambitious, measurable academic goals set for an educator’s students based on past performance data.  To evaluate teachers and principals in the state, districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services are required to conduct APPRs.

Following NYSED’s approval of the Real-Time Diagnostic, all New York districts can use the assessment to track student progress for SLOs and personalize educational opportunities for learners. Additionally, purchasing IXL gives districts access to an end-to-end learning solution. The Real-Time Diagnostic is part of IXL’s personalized learning platform, which guides each student to specific skills in IXL’s curriculum that will fill the knowledge gaps identified by the diagnostic. This seamless connection between assessment and instruction helps educators more efficiently tailor their lessons to ensure every student meets key learning objectives.…Read More

3 critical elements of a K-12 cybersecurity strategy

Technology has significantly changed the classroom experience over the last decade, with the ubiquity of the IoT, mobile apps, and teleconferencing ushering in a new era of instruction and learning. What’s more, this sea of change shows no sign of abating—case in point, late last year Roblox announced plans to reach 100 million students in the metaverse by the end of the decade. As K-12 institutions invest in emerging technologies and platforms, it’s critical that they not overlook cybersecurity concerns.

There are numerous cybersecurity challenges emerging in the connected education age, but following are some of the most pressing:

Increasingly Sophisticated Phishing Campaigns…Read More

Labster Secures $47M in New Funding Tranche to Expand Global Opportunities for Virtual Science Laboratory Simulations

COPENHAGEN and BOSTON – April 6, 2022 – Labster ( www.labster.com), the world’s leading platform for virtual labs and interactive science, has raised $47 million in additional funding to support massive growth opportunities worldwide. This new capital infusion will enable Labster to further develop in Europe and the United States and to establish itself within Asia and Latin America. By investing more funds into its library of science simulations and expanding its reach to younger students and adult workforce skills training, Labster will be able to serve 100 million students around the world through its institutional and government partnerships.

Total investment in Labster now stands at $147 million. This new financing tranche is sourced from new investors: Sofina Group and Pirate Impact, along with fresh infusions from existing investors: Owl Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, EduCapital, NPF Technologies, and GGV Capital. They are joining the Series C round announced in 2021 led by Andreessen Horowitz. Additional investors included Balderton Capital, Northzone, Swisscom Ventures, and David Helgason, founder of Unity Technologies.

“As a contributor to sustainable development, Sofina is proud to support Labster’s vision of empowering millions of students with an engaging STEM learning experience,” said Bertrand Fawe, investment manager at Sofina Group. “The use of immersive virtual reality technology will continue to play a growing role in the delivery of education.”…Read More

Introducing a new State and District Data Validation Tool for SKYWARD® Users

KALAMAZOO, Michigan – APRIL 6, 2022 – Level Data, Inc. announces a new suite of data validation tools for districts using the Skyward brand Student Information System (SIS). Level Data is a privately-held SaaS Company working with over 1,200 school districts and more than 5 million students using their data validation, data integration and reporting products.

Public School Administrators and student data specialists everywhere understand that submitting accurate data to federal and state agencies is absolutely essential for their district to receive all the funding they are entitled to from many government sources. State submission specialists at school districts are under significant pressure to secure all the funding they possibly can to bolster their local budgets.

Also of critical importance, data-driven decision-making has proven to be key in providing the highest quality of education to students. These decisions that can positively affect curriculum and other strategies are only as good as the quality of the underlying data. Simply put, districts that do not actively focus on maintaining the highest quality data face a substantial performance and economic disadvantage.…Read More

Latest Research from Curriculum Associates Highlights Importance of Grade-Level Readiness for Student Growth

NORTH BILLERICA, Mass.,March 17, 2022—Whether students are prepared for grade-level learning matters more to their progress over the course of the pandemic than whether they were remote or in school, according to a new report released by Curriculum Associates. The report, Student Growth during COVID-19: Grade-Level Readiness Matters, analyzes data gathered from the edtech company’s i-Ready Assessment tool for reading and mathematics from more than two million Grades 1–8 students who used i-Ready Diagnostics during the last three school years, using student testing location (i.e., in school or remote) as a proxy for learning location.

The report provides new insights on student learning trends, and serves as a call to other education researchers to look at similar factors. Curriculum Associates’ data follows the same students, examining how they progressed over time from the 2019–2020 school year before the pandemic hit through the 2020–2021 school year. This report offers a unique understanding of how the pandemic impacted students as, unlike most research published on unfinished learning, it followed the same students across two years, incorporating their reported testing location during the pandemic.

“After several reports exploring the extent of unfinished learning, we find that remote versus in school alone did not matter much in impacting student scores,” said Dr. Kristen Huff, vice president of assessment and research at Curriculum Associates. “Though there were slight differences in student growth based on location, what mattered most was where students started in the first place—that is, whether they were already behind or prepared for grade-level work at the beginning of the school year.”…Read More

Leading Education Organizations Applaud Spending Increase for Social and Emotional Learning in FY2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act

March 17, 2022 — The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and Committee for Children strongly applaud the passage of the FY2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act which provides increased funding for a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Initiative to support SEL and “whole child” approaches to education.

This critical funding for SEL is part of a $2 billion increase over the fiscal year 2021 enacted level for students’ learning and development in K-12 education, including students with disabilities. Related to SEL, the bill provides:

  • $82 million for evidence-based, field-initiated innovations that address student social, emotional, and cognitive needs (increase of $15 million) within the Education Innovation and Research program;
  • $85 million for the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program with a priority for teacher professional development and pathways into teaching that provide a strong foundation in implementing SEL and “whole child” strategies (increase of $5 million);
  • $111 million within School Safety National Activities for Mental Health Services Professional Demonstration Grants and School-Based Mental Health Services Grants, to help LEAs directly increase the number of mental health and child development experts in schools (increase of $95 million); and
  • $75 million for Full-Service Community schools to provide comprehensive services and expand evidence-based models that meet the holistic needs of children, families, and communities (increase of $45 million).

“Policymakers join in the growing support from educators, parents, students, and employers in advancing students’ overall well-being and success – academically, socially, and emotionally,” said Dr. Aaliyah A. Samuel, President and CEO of CASEL. “We believe these resources will support and expand safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environments for our nation’s learners.”…Read More

FEV Tutor’s Personalized High-Impact Tutoring is Now Available to Over 5 Million Students

WOBURN, Mass. – March 16, 2022 – FEV Tutor, the most comprehensive virtual tutoring solution in K-12, today announced that its personalized high-impact tutoring program is now used by more than 400 districts with nearly 5 million students in aggregate. The company is projecting a 200% growth in the number of tutoring sessions delivered from 2021 to 2022. This milestone underscores the challenges school districts face and FEV Tutor’s commitment to providing research-based, high-impact online tutoring to students around the clock seven days a week, year after year.

“Last week alone, we delivered nearly 70,000 tutoring sessions,” said Ryan Patenaude, Sr. Vice President and Co-Founder of FEV Tutor.  “We are honored that our partner districts have entrusted us to help their students through our experienced tutors and our individualized instruction practices.”

FEV Tutor is a US Department of Education, Level Two ESSA research and evidence-based intervention. Its live 1:1 online tutoring program employs instructors with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and two years of teaching experience. It delivers personalized academic intervention where it’s needed most and is designed to naturally extend the instruction delivered by a specific school or district.…Read More

Linewize Acquires K-12 Web Filter and Firewall Provider Cipafilter

SAN DIEGO, Calif., March 11, 2022 – Linewize, a division of Family Zone (ASX: FZO), a rapidly growing education technology company, announced today the acquisition of Cipafilter, a web filter and firewall dedicated to educators nationwide. This marks the third acquisition in less than a year making Linewize one of the world’s largest K-12 digital safety providers, serving more than 10 million students globally and offering a suite of capabilities including compliance and filtering, classroom management, real-time monitoring and intervention, online safety education and more. Linewize’s parent company, Family Zone, acquired Cipafilter through the 100% acquisition of shares in Cipafilter’s holding company DerbyTech, Inc. Agreed consideration is $4.5 million in Family Zone shares at the 30-Day VWAP representing 13,116,316 Shares plus an estimated $3.0 million to be paid in cash. 

With an established reputation for quality and loyalty, Cipafilter provides schools with a web filter and firewall technology, in addition to valuable reporting and notification alerts. Having served the U.S. K-12 market for over two decades, the company supports more than 400,000 students. This acquisition perfectly aligns with Linewize’s growth strategy, further solidifying the company as a global EdTech leader. In addition to obtaining an increased client base, Linewize will now have access to more robust engineering and sales teams. 

“This acquisition is a testament to our continued growth. By merging our technology offerings and staff with that of Cipafilter, we are determined to further our mission to protect the digital journeys of students globally,” said Ross Young, executive vice president of Linewize. “Looking ahead, we remain committed to meeting the evolving needs of school districts and keeping students safe in the digital world.” …Read More

Emergent Bilingual Students Using Lexia English Scored Higher than Their Peers on California’s English Language Proficiency Assessment

BOSTON (March 9, 2022) – A 2020 report from the U.S. Department of Education stated that the number of Emergent Bilinguals – also known as English language learners – in U.S. public schools has increased by more than a million since 2000. A recent study on the Lexia® English Language Development (Lexia English) program found that emergent bilingual students who used the program scored an average of 15 points higher than nonusers on the English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC) test.

The study focused on 2,034 emergent bilingual K-5 students across 21 schools in a mid-sized northern California district. During the 2020-21 school year, the district used Lexia English as part of a hybrid or remote instruction, primarily in English Learner (EL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) instructional periods.  Across all student groups, Lexia English users scored higher than non-Lexia English users. Compared to non-Lexia English users, Lexia English users scored higher regardless of their gender, race or ethnicity, eligibility for free-or-reduced price lunch, or language spoken at home.

All emergent bilingual students using Lexia English benefited from its culturally relevant pedagogy as well as its support of English language development through academic conversations. By focusing on the assets that each student brings to the classroom and having already mastered one language, they are able to build new language skills in a timely manner. In addition to their overall score being 15 points higher, on average, than peers who did not use the program, Lexia English users scored an average of 18 points higher on the ELPAC’s oral domain than nonusers. These results are consistent with Lexia English’s emphasis on speaking and supporting students’ English language development through academic conversations.…Read More