K-12 Dealmaking: Activate Learning and a Big Supplier, School Specialty, Make Acquisitions

Contributing Writer

In this week’s dealmaking news, curriculum company Activate Learning and K-12 supplier School Specialty announced acquisitions. Also, Finnish ed-tech company Lightneer raised additional funds.

Activate Learning acquires IT’S ABOUT TIME: Activate Learning, a provider of a K-8 science curriculum designed to be aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, has acquired IT’S ABOUT TIME, a provider of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curricula for K-12 and college students, according to an announcement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The combined company “will continue to partner with school districts, offering the highest-quality, classroom-tested solutions to support teachers and build students’ higher order thinking skills and content knowledge,” according to the statement.

The acquisition expands Activate Learning’s product line to include the solutions from IT’S ABOUT TIME “to span the entire K-12 STEM curriculum and college pre-service science teaching.”

“Both of our companies have similar philosophical and pedagogical approaches to STEM education and are leaders in our respective areas,” said Eric Johnson, CEO of Activate Learning. “Together, we’re committed to meaningful learning experiences that combine effective hands-on investigations and interactive digital content to prepare students for the next stage in their education.”

Tom Laster, co-president of IT’S ABOUT TIME, added that the “combined company will continue to be at the forefront of STEM education and further advance teaching and learning. Higher education institutions and employers need graduates who can tackle real-world challenges that often cut across disciplines.”

Activate Learning said it plans to continue expansion through additional acquisitions in STEM education and related market areas. The company’s majority investor is private investment firm Palm Ventures.

School Specialty acquires Triumph Learning: School Specialty, a distributor of supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources to the education, healthcare and other marketplaces, has agreed to acquire educational content company Triumph Learning, LLC, according to a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

School Specialty designs, develops, and provides educators with school supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Triumph Learning is a publisher of state-specific test preparation, and supplemental and intervention curriculum products for the K-12 education market.

“With the acquisition of Triumph Learning, we gain immediate access to a vast amount of proprietary content in areas that can be leveraged in both current and new products to accelerate our growth plans in the coming years,” said Joseph M. Yorio, president and CEO of School Specialty.

He continued: “Triumph Learning’s products are very complementary to our current offering and others that we intend to bring to market, as we expand in the Instruction & Intervention category and in areas such as reading comprehension, writing and math. There are also tremendous synergies beyond just existing products. Together, we will have a stronger product development team, a broader and more effective selling organization and extended customer reach. This will enable us to deliver a true blended learning solution to our customers.”

Edmentum and Renaissance form partnership:  Edmentum, a provider of web-based learning solutions, is collaborating with Renaissance, a provider of pre-K–12 learning analytics, to combine online assessment with adaptive instruction, according to a statement.

The computer-adaptive Renaissance Star Assessments will be integrated into Exact Path, Edmentum’s K–8 individualized learning solution, “delivering targeted, assessment-driven data and instruction to teachers and students across the country,” according to the companies.

In addition, Exact Path will be integrated with Renaissance Flow 360, a new offering that connects assessment, planning, instruction, and practice in one place.

“This integration brings together two powerful programs, Exact Path and Star Assessments, to deliver student-centric, adaptive instruction to the classroom,” Edmentum CEO Jamie Post Candee “By collaborating with Renaissance, we are offering schools and districts the flexibility to use the successful programs that they already have in place to deliver targeted instruction to all of their students.”

“In collaborating with Edmentum, our goal is to provide teachers with data-driven solutions that help them improve student outcomes,” said Paula O’Gorman, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at Renaissance. “We’re committed to continually innovating our solutions to meet the needs of educators, and in the many conversations we’ve had with Edmentum about this collaboration, it’s clear they share this same goal.”

The announcement comes just a few weeks after Renaissance named Daniel Hamburger, the former president and CEO of the DeVry Education Group, as its CEO.

Lightneer Raises $5 Million: The Helsinki-based learning game studio has closed a $5 million seed funding round, according to a blog posting on the company’s website. The round was led by GSV Acceleration with participation from IPR VCBrighteye VC and Reach Capital.

Lightneer has received $7.8 million in funding to date; other investors include Founders Factory and TEKES.

Be sure to check back on Marketplace K-12 for updates on mergers, acquisitions, fundraising, and other dealmaking.

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