Renaissance Learning Acquires UClass

Renaissance Learning, the Google-funded K-12 assessment and learning analytics service with a valuation north of $1 billion, today announced that it has acquired UClass, a cloud storage and content management service school districts can use to store, distribute and analyze their curriculum catalogs. The two companies did not disclose the financial details of the transaction.

screen-shot-2015-02-03-at-11-48-37-am1Until now, Renaissance Learning’s focus was mostly on analyzing student performance and helping them recognize what skill to focus on next. UClass approaches analytics from a different perspective: the district level and the state standards these districts have to fulfill.

By combining the two services, Renaissance Learning — which is currently being used by about a third of U.S. schools — will be able to help teachers match students to the right content that’s already approved by the state and part of its curriculum. This way, teachers will be able to see how students are doing and quickly match them with the right set of existing resources in the UClass library, where all the content is already tagged based on the state standard and/or skill.

Renaissance Learning tells me that its own research shows teachers typically spend about 7.5 hours per week on instructional planning. A lot of that time is spent looking for teaching plans, worksheets and assignments. Having these in a single database for the whole district frees these teachers to focus on their teaching instead of Google searches. Other educational analytics services, Renaissance also pointed out, only link to material produced directly by them, but teachers clearly want to pull material from different sources.

“The combination of Renaissance’s assessment data and UClass’s district content significantly increases the ability for an educator to choose the right curriculum at the exact moment a student is ready to learn it. This is one of the most game-changing things happening in education today,” CEO Zak Ringelstein notes in today’s announcement.

Renaissance Learning will continue to operate UClass for existing customers. The company doesn’t have any plans to shut the standalone service down right now. Renaissance is also working on integrating the two services and expects to launch its integrated platform in the second half of the year.