INNOVATION: Education Management Company Seeing Results

Children who can read proficiently by the third grade are more likely to complete high school and higher education.

Since only 37% of fourth grade students nationwide can read according to their grade level, there’s ample opportunity for companies to make a difference in this realm.

One that is striving to do so is Learning Ovations. The education management company recently announced that it’s seeing 85% of students using its platform meet or exceed the growth rate seen in its research studies.

The results of Learning Ovations, with HQ at the Cove, the home of UCI Applied Innovation, are based on its A2i Professional Support System, a tech platform that enables K-3 teachers to individualize instruction.

The company began implementing its system nationwide last fall to achieve national priorities in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.

That rollout was facilitated by an approximate $15 million education innovation and research expansion grant from the Dept. of Education.

A2i is short for assessment-to-instruction. It’s a cloud-based platform.

It works by linking assessment results to recommendations for strategies and activities, all through evidence-based algorithms.

Foundation

Jay Connor founded the company in 2013 and serves as CEO.

Connor previously served as a divisional president and SVP of marketing for two Fortune 100 corporations.

He was the co-founder of Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (1994), one of the first community outcomes incubators.

He also founded the Collaboratory for Community Solutions, one of the first social enterprises (1997) and Rubicon Partners, the predecessor to Learning Ovations.

Based on his previous experience, he said he found that “dramatically improving third grade reading rates was a required keystone outcome” to make a “population-level impact on a broad range of social issues, from poverty to health to education.”

“Starting in 2008 with funding by the U.S. Dept. of Education, we sought to understand what evidence-based research and practices were required to transform reading outcomes and how could we make those tools available at scale,” he told OC Startups Now.

Throughout years of “rigorously-tested” research and development, Learning Ovations proved 94% of all children who used the company’s system consistently ended up reading at, or above, grade level by the end of the third grade.

The company saw its students obtain an overall 5th grade reading average.

In 2017, the Dept. of Education, awarded the company a five-year Education, Innovation and Research United2Read grant to support its ongoing research and expansion.

The company targets superintendents at the district level so that it can implement its system throughout all schools within the district.

It charges each district according to how many schools it contains.

Partnership with UCI

Learning Ovations is a partner of UCI, as part of the United2Read grant.

UCI serves as the research lead in improving the A2i tech and also advises on school district partnerships.

Connor served as a board member for the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He typically serves as a judge for the UCI New Venture Competition.

He also teaches a social enterprise course to undergrads at the UCI Paul Merage School of Business.

Funding

In addition to the 2017 grant, Learning Ovations also has received two SBIR grants from the Institute of Educational Sciences and U.S. Dept. of Education.

Clients

Its clients include the Anaheim Elementary School District, the La Habra City School District and the Norwalk-La Mirada USD

Vista Unified School District.

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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