MasteryConnect Collects $15.2 Million So
Teachers Can Teach To Students And Not To Tests
by Jonathan Shieber
MasteryConnect has raised $15.2 million to further market its software that it hopes will help enable educators to teach to their students, and not teach their students how to take tests.
“We’ve created a platform that lets teachers identify a student’s level of understanding against any set of standards, in real-time,” says chief executive Cory Reid.
“It’s a backlash against high stakes testing or standardized testing,” Reid continues. “Our DNA is belief in the teacher and the classroom.”
The Salt Lake City-based company’s software was developed by a serial entrepreneur and a former teacher and principal to ensure that students in a classroom were all understanding the material they were being taught. The software prompts teachers to administer quick checks for understanding that can be distributed on a mobile device, as a quiz, or through a browser.
Already, using its “freemium” model, the company’s software has users in 85 percent of school districts in the country, has been downloaded in 170 countries, and has been used to teach roughly 22 million students.
“We’ve been working on it since 2009,” says Reid. “We grew from a team of three to a team of over 75.”
The software costs $7 per student per year for a rollout across a school, or school district, but teachers can use aspects of the app for free. “Instead of a credit card payment, we want them to become evangelizers. Roughly 33% of our sales have teachers involved,” says Reid. So far, the company’s mobile apps have been downloaded 5 million times.
The core offering is an assessment suite that helps teachers build lesson plans around various standards, using resources that have been selected by teachers around the world. Teachers then have the ability to test student understanding on a yearly, monthly or daily basis (and can re-teach lessons that particular students didn’t comprehend). The company’s curricula and software also offers a more holistic assessment of a student’s results by emphasizing areas where the student excelled and areas that still need work.
International schools use the applications and software to follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum, while in the U.S. the adoption of common core standards have driven adoption.
In June, MasteryConnect bought Cambridge, Mass.-based Socrative, an in-class software program for increasing student engagement, for $5 million in cash and stock.
In a blog post explaining his firm’s investment in MasteryConnect, general partner Larry Orr wrote:
Education is a top priority in this country. Teachers and administrators are desperate to improve students’ learning in an efficient way, and are looking to technology to help them. So far, the approach to deploying devices and educational software in our schools has been haphazard and inconsistent, challenging entrepreneurs to build products useful to a large subset of teachers and learning environments.
At Trinity, we’ve looked hard to find a solution that has the potential to massively improve student outcomes while reaching as many teachers and students as possible; something that will bring teachers, students and parents closer together, and that will support the growth of next-gen teaching methods such as formative assessment. We believe we’ve found that in MasteryConnect…