My mother works for the New York City Board of Education, so education reform is one of those topics that heard about all the time when growing up. One thing I had now heard of, though, is a new iniative called Common Core State Standards, which seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment with each other in order to give American students the skills they need for higher education and beyond.
The iniative seems to be fairly popular so far as, for far, 46 states have announced their plans to adopt it. Here's the problem: as with any new standards, the teachers have to be well versed in them to teach them to their students.
That is where online education company LearnZillion, which is dedicated to helping teachers learn the new standards, comes in. The company has raised $7 million of Series A funding, it was announced Monday.
The round was led by DCM and joined by O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, NewSchools Venture Fund, Calvert Social Investment Fund, and D.C. Community Ventures. The company previously raised a $2.4 million seed round and the new round brings total funding to date to $9.4 million.
LearnZillion says that it will use the funding to hire key talent to fuel technology development, scale more quickly, and enrich its platform to reach more educators.
What LearnZillion does it create a platform to help teachers, schools and districts that are implementing the Common Core State Standards, which defines what student from kindergarten to grade 12 are meant to learn on a state by state basis. The Common Core State Standards are adopted at the individual state level, and will eventually lead to new standardized tests that will measure and compare educational performance nationwide.
To develop the site's curriculum, LearnZillion chooses top teachers from around the country through a submission and selection process. This year’s team will be comprised of 200 teachers from 41 states who will work together over the summer to develop the LearnZillion platform.
The platform is offered to teachers and parents for free. Teachers are given lessons, assessments, and activities to help them understand the new standards, plan effective lessons, and assign content directly to students, while parents can use the platform to find out what their child needs to know, assign lessons and quizzes, and track their child's progress.
A premium version of LearnZillion is available for schools and districts so that they can implement data-driven professional development focused on the Common Core, initiate Common Core Professional Learning Communities and track learning across classrooms and schools.
“The Common Core is the biggest shift in education in decades,” Eric Westendorf, CEO of LearnZillion, said in a statement. “It creates a major pain point for teachers, school administrators, parents and even students. Teachers need new materials and professional development to get up-to-speed. We’re creating a national community of teachers that are embracing the challenge head on. Our platform provides a digital curriculum that’s been created ‘By Teachers, For Teachers’ and is built directly from the Common Core State Standards.”
The Washington D.C.-based LearnZillion was founded in 2011 and currently has over 120,000 registered teachers, reaching approximately 1.4 million students, and is adding roughly 5,000 new teachers every week.
LearnZillion could not be reached for further comment.
(Image source: http://www.kean.edu)