Renaissance Learning Announces Growth Platform at SXSWedu

This past week at SXSWedu, Renaissance Learning, the venerable billion dollar education analytics platform (founded in 1984 in central Wisconsin) announced the reorganization of its various math, literacy, and assessment products into the Renaissance Growth Platform.

With nearly 20 million students (1/3 of U.S. schools) already using these products, the launch of the Renaissance Growth Platform marks their complete rebuild to take advantage of the platform’s robust, scalable architecture and integrate with partner products, all in a more seamless manner.

I had the chance to sit down with Mike Evans, CFO and interim CEO of Renaissance Learning, at SXSWedu to learn more through a short interview.

Starting his career in the media industry, Mike moved into the education industry during the go-go days of the dot-com boom. He joined the edtech startup BigChalk, Inc. before moving to Pearson, where he most recently ran their literacy and math business. Mike then joined Renaissance as CFO in October 2015, and recently added the mantle as interim CEO following their former CEO Jack Lynch’s move to lead Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

In a market of assessment-driven instruction, the Renaissance Growth Platform serves as connective tissue for not only both Renaissance products, but also partner products, using their core capabilities to enhance opportunities for schools to integrate partner products.

Through this announcement and their meetings at SXSWedu, Renaissance is actively seeking new and expanded partnerships with third-party edtech vendors and startups.

Mike shared that in his mind, the most special thing Renaissance has to offer is deep insights around student progress, mastery and growth:

“Whether you see it in our STAR product offerings or in the connection we have with our existing practice offerings or partners, the DNA that is most special about Renaissance is the analytic capability we have to diagnose students strengths and weakness and build upon them to project student growth over time.”

Renaissance doesn’t necessarily think of their company as strictly a reading or assessment company, but as a learning analytics company, because of that deep DNA.

Outside of the new Renaissance Growth Platform and their established products like Accelerated Reader and Math, Mike also shared some of their new product development work around teacher workflow in the classroom. The company is launching new technologies to help teachers with planning, noting how arduous this task can be and how much time it can take away from classroom instruction.

Stay tuned as Renaissance releases new product offering teachers more sophisticated, targeted and easier ways to create lesson plans for their classrooms.

Christopher Nyren

Christopher Nyren

A Chicagoan with 15 years of strategic investment experience in the education markets, Christopher Nyren (@cnyren) is the founder of both Educated Ventures, an education industry-focused advisory and seed investment firm, and Educelerate, a not-for-profit network to foster startup ventures focused on education technology and innovation. When not sharing his expertise on edtech investment, Christopher enjoys plane-hopping and collecting rare craft brews.