Kickboard, a New Orleans-based startup that aims to help teachers and schools better capture, analyze and share student performance data, announced today that it has secured $2 million in series A financing. The round was led by New Markets Venture Partners and included contributions from Two Sigma Ventures and a handful of angel investors. Having $800K in seed and angel rounds to date, Kickboard’s series A brings its total capital raised to $2.8 million.
Launched officially in 2009, Kickboard is currently in use at 200 schools across 20 states, which are using the platform to help their teachers better keep track of student performance through one-click data capture, as well as data visualization via detailed charts and graphs and student reporting in customizable progress reports. It’s a bit like a student data-centric Roambi for the Web, or Newvem/Google Analytics for teachers.
Student information systems (SISes) are the data resources, which schools use to collect and aggregate their critical student data. But because they are deficient, don’t work well with other applications or datasets (hence the appearance of Clever and LearnSprout) and tend to require manual data entry, Kickboard wants to help schools complement their archaic SISes by creating rich student profiles that include their performance on assessments, mastery of standards, level of reading comprehension — and most importantly, says Kickboard founder and CEO Jennifer Medbery — student behavior and character strengths.
By providing realtime visibility into student performance both in and out of the classroom, Kickboard aims to give teachers the kind of information they need to make meaningful changes to instruction, interventions and to help them personalize the learning process according to each student’s individual needs. Schools are keen to begin implementing data-driven teaching methods, Medbery tells us, and by giving them access to a deeper set of information whenever they need it, Kickboard is making it easier to facilitate collaboration among teachers and better communication with parents — or at least that’s the idea.
Today, it’s critical for teachers to have access to modern technology that can help them work more efficiently and effectively. A critical first step along that path, the Kickboard founder says, is giving teachers a better way to capture, analyze and share evidence of student progress so it isn’t tucked away in a filing cabinet or trapped in a homegrown maze of Google Docs, Excel spreadsheets, and email. As a result, she says, Kickboard “is seeing educators access Kickboard numerous times throughout a school day in order to inform intervention and communicate with colleagues across classroom walls.”
However, what teachers are most excited by, the Kickboard founder tels us, is that the platform aims to enable educators to go beyond standardized test scores as the primary form of performance assessment, allowing them to gain insights into academic progress, skill mastery, as well as behavioral performance.
“But, at this point, we’re just beginning to scratch the surface,” Medbery says, “with this funding, we’ll be able to accelerate the development of our analytics platform for schools. The long-term goal is to sit alongside Crayons and chalkboards as must-have classroom supplies.” Though there’s certainly a long way to go before that happens, demand from teachers waiting for school-wide implementation of Kickboard has led to the startup beginning to offer free starter accounts to individual teachers and teams of up to three teachers per school, which include most of the same features and functionality as its enterprise platform.
Kickboard, of course, is not alone in its mission to unlock student data, as startups like Ontract and Always Prepped are currently at work in K-12 education, while companies like Civitas Learning are trying to do the same for higher education.
Non-profit startup InBloom also just launched a platform, which represents a significant step in the direction of transforming education through data by providing “entrepreneurs, schools and districts with a better, easier way to make sense of and utilize big data” — one that’s decidedly data, platform and user agnostic. InBloom is looking to make it easier for platforms like Kickboard to scale school-wide and across districts and states by helping to standardize the languages and methods their technology use to communicate with each other. Writ large, the more these startups can unlock student performance data and help schools and teachers personalize the learning process for students, the better the outcomes. And that is money in the bank.