K-12 Dealmaking: New Harbor-Backed MindPlay Acquires LightSail Education

Staff Writer
K-12 dealmaking

MindPlay Education acquired LightSail Education to help expand MindPlay’s current digital literacy and math offerings, the companies announced.

MindPlay, which is owned by Chicago-based private equity firm New Harbor Capital, offers software-based dyslexia screening, reading acceleration, and other literacy products for grades K-12, as well as a K-5 math curriculum and learning assessments.

With the acquisition, MindPlay will add LightSail’s literacy platform — which includes personalized reading modules, a fluency builder, and an expansive library with both short texts and whole books — to its literacy-focused product line up. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a statement, MindPlay CEO Jeff Pendleton said LightSail “is an innovative and effective learning platform that helps students learn from the content they love, with the social features today’s students expect.”

LightSail’s “instructional and administrative tools deliver on districts’ needs for ease-of-use, versatility, pedagogical rigor, and value without sacrificing students’ need for an engaging, content-rich, and diverse literacy experience,” he added.

Tucson, Ariz.-based MindPlay was founded 40 years ago by Judith Bliss as a development platform for educational publishers, and later pivoted toward literacy after Bliss was unable to find literacy tools to help a family member with dyslexia.

LightSail CEO Steven Gittleson said in a statement that one of the goals of the acquisition is to combine LightSail’s large library with MindPlay’s existing literacy products.

“Our breadth of content delivered across multiple learning modalities will be a powerful combination with MindPlay’s instructional expertise,” he said.

Whooo’s Reading acquired by Savvas. K-12 curriculum provider Savvas Learning Company acquired Whooo’s Reading, the companies announced. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Savvas — previously known as Pearson K-12 Learning and based in Paramus, N.J.– was interested in acquiring Whooo’s Reading’s because of its use of artificial intelligence technologies, Savvas CEO Bethlam Forsa said in a statement. The company’s product uses machine learning to evaluate students’ written responses to any text they may be reading.

“Artificial intelligence technology has the power to transform K-12 education by dramatically helping to personalize the teaching and learning experience,” Forsa said. “The AI-driven technology that supports Whooo’s Reading is a great example of this.”

San Diego-based Whooo’s Reading provides students personalized feedback on their writing and reading skills, and provides teachers with “valuable insights into which skills their students need extra support with, allowing them to customize instruction,” Forsa added.

Whooo’s Reading has been financially supported by the National Science Foundation, as well as San Diego-based venture capital firm Keshif Ventures.

By becoming part of Savvas, Whooo’s Reading will be able to reach a larger number of students and better scale its approach to reading and writing comprehension, CEO Raphael Menko said in a statement.

“We’ve always wanted to impact more students,” Menko said. “We’re thrilled now to be able to expand the reach of this incredible technology and impact the millions of students who use Savvas products.”

Australian startup raises $1.4 million. Pivot, a Melbourne, Australia-based ed-tech startup, raised $1.4 million to grow its student-teacher feedback platform.

According to media reports, Pivot’s funding round was led by Catholic Dioceses of Maitland-Newcastle, and included support from tech firm DiUS and the Alice Anderson Fund, an investment program from the startup agency for the Australian state Victoria.

Pivot’s platform is designed to allow students to fill out surveys about educators’ teaching style. Teachers can also then use the platform to  develop goals and professional development plans based on students’ feedback. The data is additionally shared with school district leaders.

The company reports about 1,500 schools in Australia use the platform.

Image by Getty

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