An education startup you've never heard of is now in 70% of US school districts
- A startup called Kiddom is in 70% of US school districts, and it's quickly enticing teachers with the "personalized learning" model.
- Personalized learning uses technology to tailor lesson plans to individual kids' abilities and learning styles.
- It's been endorsed by tech giants like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
If 2017 had any standout education movements, it was personalized learning, a style of instruction that uses technology to tailor instruction to individual kids.
A Silicon Valley startup called Kiddom is banking on the trend continuing for the foreseeable future - and it's already in 70% of US school districts.
Kiddom is a digital platform that helps teachers plan and track students' progress on an individual basis, along with giving students a way to see all their assignments and deadlines in one place. More importantly, Kiddom purports to determine students' optimal learning style and pace of instruction, in order to best-design lesson plans.
One of its fundamental tools is the "Class Standards Mastery" function. After teachers design a lesson plan and set expectations for kids' achievement, students can log on to the app to see how they're faring in reaching goals. Each week or month, teachers and students receive detailed reports analyzing the progress in each subject area.
Some research has found this personalized model to help kids excel in measures of reading and math, since it uses data to hold kids and teachers accountable. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have both celebrated the approach for boosting success rates.
Kiddom CEO and Founder Ahsan Rizvi started the company in 2015 as a way to eliminate as much guesswork as possible from the teaching (and learning) process. Within the first couple years, Kiddom saw 30% growth across classrooms month-over-month.
Today, a typical school where just a few teachers adopt Kiddom ends up registering 95% of the teaching staff within six months, the company said in a March 2017 statement.
Kiddom isn't the only company looking to make a splash in personalized learning.
In 2013, entrepreneur Matthew Gross started a similar company called Newsela. The app aims to improve kids' literacy by simplifying news articles according to particular students' reading abilities. One 4th-grader may read an article on the government shutdown at a 7th-grade level, while another reads it at a 2nd-grade level. The idea is to promote richer comprehension and class discussion no matter each child's abilities.
Even in its limited run, Newsela has reportedly led to big jumps in achievement. When it looked at kids scoring below the 50th percentile in reading who regularly read Newsela articles and took quizzes, the startup saw an average increase of 12 percentile points - a jump equivalent to passing hundreds of thousands of kids - in a three-month period.
Kiddom is not in quite as many schools as Newsela, but it seems to have a broader scope in mind. And with a recent $6.5 million investment from Khosla Ventures, the startup could be on its way toward capturing (and educating) even more young minds.
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