K-12 Dealmaking: Age of Learning Partners With HMH; Pearson Lands Egyptian Contract; ETS and Khan Academy Partner

Associate Editor

Ed-tech provider Age of Learning announced a “significant licensing partnership” with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for well-known book titles, while Pearson begins a national testing contract with Egypt. ETS and Khan Academy are partnering to offer aspiring teachers free test prep for the Praxis exam. Safeguarding solutions provider Impero Software has named Justin Reilly as CEO, while former CEO Richard Fuller has been named executive chairman.

Age of Learning announces a book licensing partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, adding classic titles to its products. Age of Learning recently announced a major book licensing partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing that will add more children’s literature to the thousands of expert-curated books in the ReadingIQ digital library and literacy platform, as well as to ABCmouse.com, Early Learning Academy, and Adventure Academy.

Among the titles in the collection covered by the license are: “Jumanji” and “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg; “Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle; “The Crossover by Kwame Alexander; several “Curious George titles by H.A. Rey; “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton; and “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow.

The company. citing its own nationwide survey of 1,000 teachers and 1,000 parents in the announcement, found that lack of access to high-quality books is a major challenge for children 12 and under, and that expanding availability is critical to improving reading skills.

“Increasing children’s access to books that engage, inspire, and educate is fundamental to our mission,” said Doug Dohring, founder and CEO of Age of Learning. “Partnering with HMH to bring more award-winning and classic books to ReadingIQ, ABCmouse, and Adventure Academy will provide more opportunities for children to experience the joys and benefits of reading in our educational offerings.”

Pearson wins a national Egyptian assessment contract. In what Pearson calls its biggest global testing contract by volume, the international learning company said it has delivered the first phase of a contract for the Egyptian government, with 125 million online assessments to be taken over a four-year period.

This is the first phase of a key assessment contract designed to support the Egyptian government in reforming its national assessment program for grades 10-12, the company said in its announcement. Pearson is supporting the development, delivery and marking of online assessments, in collaboration with York Press, the independent educational publishers.

Working with the Egyptian Ministry of Education and York Press, Pearson has developed and delivered a new online assessment and grading platform rolled out nationwide. The customized online assessments cover all 13 subjects of the Egyptian curriculum and are designed to gauge students’ ability in a balanced way across grades 10-12, replacing the current system that has one final, high-stakes assessment in each subject at the end of 12th grade. It includes open-ended questions to focus on assessing students’ understanding before they progress to higher education and/or a career.

“Our ambition is to transform the Egyptian education system to be truly world-class,” said Tarek Shawki, the Egyptian Minister of Education, in the announcement. “We have a real sense of urgency in this reform program and are proud to have achieved in 10 months what other countries might take several years to achieve.”

Before running the assessment series this summer, Pearson delivered a pilot in May for around 500,000 Grade 10 students taking digital assessments for each of the 13 subjects. The pilot was conducted in about 2,000 schools on Samsung tablet devices. The Egyptian Ministry of Education will continue to invest in tablets to support the delivery of up to 45 million tests each year.

Pearson also said it delivered an online marking system to support the project. The system enabled the marking of 10th grade online assessments in 280 centers across the country in May, used by 31,000 markers.

ETS and Khan Academy partner to offer free test prep for aspiring teachers. With the backdrop of teacher shortages and the need for more diversity in the profession, Khan Academy and ETS have introduced Khan Academy Official Praxis Core Prep, a free preparation resource for aspiring teachers.

Teacher candidates can use this product to create a personalized learning plan to prepare for the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) test, an exam required by many teacher preparation programs.

Using Official Praxis Core Prep can strengthen the reading, writing and math skills needed to succeed on the Praxis Core test, in teacher preparation programs, and in the classroom, the companies said.

“ETS is committed to supporting our teacher candidates by making sure that they have access to free, high-quality tools and resources that enable them to succeed,” said Lillian Lowery, ETS vice president and COO for ETS Professional Educators programs, in the announcement about the new product.  “The goals of free prep for the Praxis Core tests are to help level the playing field for all teacher candidates and to help promote diversity, equity, and opportunity in the teacher pipeline.”

Official Praxis Core Prep is designed to determine each teacher candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Each learner then receives a personalized study plan to remediate skill gaps and help them succeed on test day. Then it guides teacher candidates through a series of in-depth instructional materials—including practice questions, videos and tips—that meet their needs. The program focuses on key subject matter areas and considers the time available to study for the test.

“Khan Academy strives to support teachers in all that we do, and that includes helping aspiring teachers enter the profession,” said Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, in the release. “We believe Official Praxis Core Prep can level the playing field for all teachers and, in turn, help more students succeed.”

Impero Software names Justin Reilly new CEO. Impero Software has named Justin Reilly as its new CEO. He takes over for former CEO Richard Fuller who is moving to the position of executive chairman. The announcement comes as Impero, which develops remote monitoring and management programs as well as safeguarding solutions, ends its highest sales month to date and is on track to see record sales in the U.S. this year, according to the official release.

Reilly has been appointed to steer the business through its next phase of growth following Impero’s move to the cloud in January, the opening of a U.S. office in Austin and a series of recent product announcements. He brings with him expertise from the global education space, with more than 15 years leading ed-tech businesses to success.

Early in his career, Reilly taught mathematics and information and communications technologies in United Kingdom secondary schools, so he said he understands firsthand the challenges associated with digital learning. For the past five years, Reilly was the CEO of Mwabu Group, one of Africa’s leading ed-tech businesses, serving schools and ministries of education in some of the most remote and unstable regions.  Prior to that, he was vice president of technology delivery and strategic partnerships at Pearson Education and CEO of Fronter AS, a provider of learning management systems.

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