Over the past year, education has begun a radical transformation. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the system’s weaknesses — from lack of adequate support for both teachers and students, to the slow adoption of innovative digital education tools — and remote learning has forced educators and families to adapt or fall behind. Though the end of the pandemic is now in sight, the industry’s changes appear to be here to stay, with many of America’s K-12 schools embracing digital tools and remote learning like never before.
As learning from home has taken hold, so too has a personalized approach to learning, making easy-to-use educational tech even more critical for students’ success. The shift from analog to digital education is dramatic, but one that has the potential to transform schooling for the better.
One education company is at the vanguard of the movement. Cambium Learning Group is ushering in the new era of technology-aided education with an ethos of improving equity, helping students grow, and ensuring that teachers feel more valued — all through an emphasis on what it describes as three “essential” elements — simplicity, certainty, and now. Here’s how Cambium’s philosophy and products propel edtech forward.
Improving equity and supporting students
The shortcomings of the U.S. education system were apparent to industry professionals, who observed students underperforming and dropping out, long before the pandemic took root. When in-person school closures began, issues of equity and access were highlighted: Those without adequate support and access to technology fell behind more acutely.
“When you’re in this COVID world, and you know the teacher’s not well-prepared and the students aren’t performing well, it creates chaos, uncertainty, and fear,” Cambium CEO John Campbell told the Sterling Woods Group podcast. The solution, Campbell explained, is simplifying the experience, delivering solutions that build confidence, and making the most of every learning moment. “You want to be sure that you’re using a solution that’s going to be effective for those kids,” he said.
Part of that certainty comes from a suite of products that are practical and proven to work. Lexia Learning, a brand recently acquired by Cambium, provides K-5 students with personalized programs aimed at improving literacy. Regardless of skill level, students can learn at their own pace. When one Georgia school district implemented Lexia in 2019, it saw 90% of ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) students advance at least one grade level in the program during the school year — all without placing an extra burden on teachers.
Lexia is joined by an array of other educational tools that are similarly simple. Time4Learning has become the leading curriculum for K-12 homeschool teachers by way of digital lessons that allow students to progress at their own pace. Learning A-Z, meanwhile, gives children access to thousands of books and other resources, helping to instill the joy of learning. “The student just gets on [the program] themselves and reads the book,” Campbell explained. “It’s not difficult for the student, not difficult for the parent, and not difficult for the teacher.” ExploreLearning, another Cambium digital brand, boosts students’ conceptual understanding of math and science through fun, interactive games. The games have been transformative for students who previously struggled with STEM courses: Campbell has witnessed kids grow from crying over math to confidently seeking out the games. There are hundreds to choose from.
The resources and respect teachers deserve
Of course, students aren’t the only cohort that need support in today’s education landscape. Research has shown that teachers are the most crucial component of student learning and wellbeing, yet, teachers often command too little respect, receiving inadequate compensation and resources to provide students with a good education.
Technology that helps teachers is paramount; it has the power to inform teachers with real-time data on their students’ performance, better connect them with their students, and foster an environment that’s conducive to learning. By helping students learn more effectively, Cambium’s programs not only advance students’ skills, but reduce the strain on teachers in helping their pupils understand core curricula. When the aforementioned Georgia school district implemented Lexia, student performance soared, reflecting positively on teachers as well — showing that technology can enable both student and teacher to reach a fuller potential.
In 2020, as teachers were faced with the additional challenge of managing students both in-classroom and virtually, those who’ve relied on tools such as Cambium’s adapted quickly. From Miami to Missouri, teachers who used programs including ExploreLearning, Lexia Learning and Learning A-Z were able to transition seamlessly to remote teaching, ensuring their students a smoother schooling experience in the process.
That same year, Cambium took its support of educators another step forward by acquiring Cambium Assessment. Traditionally, students are tested only once or twice a year, giving educators inadequate performance data and causing kids to fall behind. Cambium Assessment, on the other hand, aims to help students and teachers alike through online testing with rapid scoring. With real-time data provided to schools, teachers and administrators can better serve their students, identifying how to help them before they fall behind.
A digital leader poised for accelerated growth
Beyond providing key resources for teachers, students, and parents alike, Cambium has demonstrated an edge in the marketplace thanks to its power to scale. Demand for digital education tools skyrocketed in 2020, and the company has risen to meet it. Cambium’s Lexia Learning, Learning A-Z, Time4Learning, and ExploreLearning brands each grew organically by approximately 50% last year — growth that’s expected to continue its upward trajectory in 2021. In addition, Cambium has seen growing demand for its professional learning services for teachers, with LETRS — the literacy-focused solution offered by Cambium brand Voyager Sopris Learning — growing nearly 600% in the last three years.
The company’s acquisitions of Time4Learning, Cambium Assessment, and Lexia Learning have further pushed Cambium into the spotlight. Cambium Assessment has become the nation’s leading digital provider of innovative assessments, earning Cambium state-level contracts in 27 states.
Today, nearly a third of teachers in the United States use Cambium, and 18 million students rely on the company’s products worldwide. Cambium sees itself as a leader in the new era of education for years to come. It’s only the beginning.