K-12 Dealmaking: SEL Provider Partners With Chinese Company; AdvancED, Measured Progress Renamed as Cognia

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In recent dealmaking news, U.S.-based social-emotional learning program Conscious Discipline announced a partnership with Beijing-based Maxlink Education Group with the goal of implementing the company’s practices in thousands of classrooms and consulting centers across China.

In a different segment of the K-12 market,  accreditation organization AdvancED and longtime assessment provider Measured Progress, which merged last year, announced they’re rebranding under a new name: Cognia.

And Discovery Education, a big provider of classroom materials in science and other subjects, announced that it is acquiring a British virtual and augmented reality company, Inspyro.

Conscious Discipline partners with China-based Maxlink Education Group: Conscious Discipline, which offers a comprehensive social-emotional learning program, recently announced a partnership with Beijing-based Maxlink Education Group. Conscious Discipline’s line of products and practices will be implemented in 10,000 preschool and kindergarten sites, primary and middle school classrooms and consulting centers in China by 2029, the company said in its announcement.

Maxlink Education Group specializes in education research and training. The company has partnerships with top universities in China, as well as education institutes and faculty training organizations. After being introduced to Conscious Discipline at the 2018 Yale-China Program on Child Development, Maxlink expressed interested in implementing its approach across schools and consulting centers in China.

“I’m excited to work directly with our partners on this new endeavor, and I’ll be traveling to China to facilitate the initial training,” said Becky Bailey, the founder of Conscious Discipline.

“Our partners identified Conscious Discipline as a solution to the needs they’ve found in their system,” added Bailey, who said she was “thrilled to continue spreading social-emotional learning and self-regulation to adults and children worldwide.”

Co-led by Yale faculty members Walter S. Gilliam and Tong Liu, The Yale-China Program on Child Development is an international effort to promote exchange and cooperation between China and the United States in early childhood education and child development.

Gilliam and Liu will oversee the localization of Conscious Discipline publishing, curriculum, e-course, learning materials and the trainer qualification and practice in China. The first year of the partnership will focus on translation and localization. Translations of Conscious Discipline’s textbook Building Resilient Classrooms, Baby Doll Circle Time curriculum, and e-course are currently underway.

In June, Liu and Zhao Yuhong, chairwoman from Maxlink, attended a seven-day Conscious Discipline Summer Institute in Orlando. During the second year of the partnership, a Summer Institute will be held in China and up to 100 local trainers will be identified. By year three, 3,000 teachers will be trained in Conscious Discipline’s practices. Working in conjunction with Beijing Normal University Shida Assets Management Group, Maxlink will facilitate the implementation.

Conscious Discipline is currently implemented in all 50 states and 47 countries, the company said.

AdvancED/Measured Progress renamed: The two organizations merged last year, creating a $120 million nonprofit with an estimated 500 employees, with the goal of selling a unified set of assessment and school improvement products in K-12. Last week, they said they will change their name from AdvancED/Measured Progress to Cognia.

AdvancED is an accrediting organization, and it reviews districts’ performance in areas such as school governance, teacher performance, and students’ perception of their learning environment.

Measured Progress, an assessment organization, said at the time of the merger it intended to shift from a focus on large-scale, high-stakes assessments to a broader range of assessments, including formative measures meant to improve classroom practices, and interim tests.

The new name comes from the Latin word for knowledge, cognitio.

“Education is ever evolving and so are we,” said Mark Elgart, president and CEO of Cognia, in a statement. “In addition to our new name and brand identity, we are introducing advancements in how we deliver improvement services to our global network. Cognia clients now have better insights into how to improve school quality, create engaging environments for students, and assess student learning more effectively.”

Additionally, Cognia said that it is making upgrades to its diagnostic-improvement platform to include formative assessments for classroom use, and that it will create new options for accreditation, and efforts to expand its diagnostic tools to guide institutions in their improvement efforts.

Discovery Education Acquires Inspyro. Discovery Education, based in Silver Spring, Md., is snapping up the U.K.-based provider of augmented and virtual reality tools, in what the American company calls a “critical component” of its strategy for content and products.

Virtual and augmented content is already available in Discovery Education’s digital services, the company said. But the acquisition of Inspyro gives Discovery “an in-house ability to quickly design, build, and integrate new VR and AR content” into its math, science and social studies Techbooks and other digital products.

The acquisition expands Discovery’s ability to “create captivating lessons that ignite students’ natural curiosity,” Discovery Education Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy Philip Nanney said in a statement.

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