Edtech startup LearnZillion just received $7 million to help teachers implement the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which define what students need to know at each grade level.
Adopted by 46 states, the Common Core State Standards communicate what students should know in subjects like mathematics, languages, and the arts. LearnZillion is a keen supporter of Common Core State Standards, and it is developing an online and offline community for teachers [above, at LearnZillion's TeachFest conference]. The website also offers a digital curriculum dubbed “By Teachers, For Teachers” as well as professional development tools for teachers, schools, and districts.
LearnZillion makes money by charging schools for access to its “premium” features, including personalized teaching insights and data analytics.
The company claims it has 120,000 registered teachers and reaches approximately 1.4 million students and claims it’s adding about 5,000 new teachers every week. In future, CEO Eric Westendorf told me that the company will release a mobile application for teachers to help them transition to the Common Core.
“Teachers are very busy so new products must save them time,” he said in an interview. “We are working hard to make sure teachers can engage without a huge up-front commitment of time [but] we need to do even better.”
Common Core Standards have been heralded by some teachers and policy makers as a means to standardize tests and boost student achievement. However, The Bookings Institute recently issued a report arguing that they will not help with student performance. The Washington Policy Center argues that this “one size fits all” approach to education will stifle innovation. But for now, it’s the accepted wisdom.
The funding was led by DCM with participation from O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, NewSchools Venture Fund, Calvert Social Investment Fund, and D.C. Community Ventures.