K-12 Dealmaking: Edmentum Acquires Calvert Education; SmartcareOS Snaps Up Preschool Provider

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Online curriculum provider Edmentum has acquired Calvert Education Services, which offers blended learning solutions and a virtual K-8 academy. A pair of early-childhood organizations focused on creating data-management systems for preschools are joining forces.

And Conn Education, a provider of classroom materials, is making an acquisition.

In addition, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced it is inviting K-12 schools, support organizations, and researchers to apply for funding through a new $5 million grant program focused on whole-child learning and development.

The acquisition brings together Calvert’s blended learning products and virtual K-8 academy with Edmentum’s Plato Courseware.  Combined, Edmentum said these companies will seek to provide schools and districts across the country with standards-aligned K-12 digital curriculum delivered by state-certified educators through Edmentum’s EdOptions Academy.

“Calvert’s history as a forerunner in blended learning complements our 60+ year mission of empowering educators through innovation and a deep commitment to new school models,” said Jamie Candee, Edmentum’s CEO, in a statement. “As schools evolve their virtual and blended learning offerings, this acquisition fills an important need to support elementary learners in an environment that is most conducive to their learning modality.”

Calvert Education Services said that it helps educators and students with virtual and blended learning solutions that build creative problem-solving and other lifelong skills. Elementary students and their parents will have full access to Calvert’s digital resources, step-by-step lesson plans, assessments, progress tracking tools, and more through Edmentum’s EdOptions Academy. Edmentum’s team of experienced elementary educators will ensure elementary students are fully supported in their learning journey, and parents and students will have full access to elementary teachers at any time.

“For years, Calvert has specialized in nontraditional learning opportunities for students and now we are doing so with an engaging digital-first experience designed for schools,” said Steve Gross, Calvert Education Services CEO, in the statement. “Together, Edmentum and Calvert will continue that mission in schools, both in the U.S. and around the world.”

Kindergarten through 12th-grade virtual learning options will be available to schools and districts beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

SmartcareOS acquires fellow early-childhood education company. SmartcareOS, a software-as-a-service company focused on early childhood education, has acquired Preschool2me, another tech-based company with a management platform focused on preschools.

Founded in 2014 and based in Las Vegas, SmartcareOS says it serves about 2,000 childcare centers. The acquisition is meant to combine the company’s existing management platform for attendance, payments, processing and parent communication with Preschool2me’s classroom-management systems for preschools.

Together, the two organizations will offer a “suite of solutions that addresses the various needs of different users” at early childhood centers, the companies said in a statement.

James Armijo, SmartcareOS’  chief operating officer and president, told EdWeek Market Brief that the two companies’ work is complementary, in that his organization focuses on administrative functions and Preschool2me’s work is on classroom managementThe companies are not disclosing the terms of the acquisition, he said.

Preschool2me’s founder, Kapil Rajurkar, said his company’s software “has focused on connecting parents and childcare providers through digital daily reports, photos, and messages,” and that the deal will “bring us closer to a fully integrated solution for child care centers.”

Grants through CZI. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is inviting schools, support organizations, and researchers to apply for grants focused on applying the science of learning and human development to improve existing school-based practices.

The program will provide grants worth a combined $5 million for one to two years. The awards will support up to 10 entities focused on helping schools advance exemplary practices which are helping to improve student outcomes.

The grant program “provides an opportunity to identify and improve existing whole-child practices,” said Sandra Liu Huang, head of education at CZI, in a statement, “by leveraging the science of learning and human development to help educators access resources that help students develop key thinking and behavioral skills beyond academics.”

The deadline for applying is September 13. CZI, which has placed a major focus on whole-child development in its philanthropy and investment, says the program is meant to support projects that will “identify a specific school-based practice, use the science of learning and human development to refine and iterate the practice, collect data to measure how the practice impacts the intended competencies, skills and mindsets, and use data collected to improve the practice’s design.” It is not intended for general operating support, program implementation, or systems for scaling.

The request for applications can be found here. [EdWeek Market Brief recently published an article featuring 12 tips for weaving neuroscience into learning products and services from Bror Saxberg, CZI’s vice president of learning science.]

Conn Education acquires Novel Units. Conn Education, a provider of ed-tech materials and technology to pre-K-12 schools, announced that it has acquired Novel Units, which offers teacher guides for works of fiction.

The CEO of Conn Education, Benjamin Conn, said in a press statement that he and his wife, Marla Conn, had a strong familiarity with Novel Units and see an opportunity to “relaunch [an] iconic brand.” Marla Conn used Novel Units’ products as a teacher in New York City, and Benjamin Conn said he had marketed and sold the company’s products as a distributor.

Conn Education is acquiring Novel Units from ECS Learning Systems. Novel Units currently offers chapter-by-chapter reading guides for teachers, quizzes, vocabulary strategies, and other features, the companies said in their statement.

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