By guest blogger Kevin Connors
Ask any teacher and they will tell you that there are simply not enough hours in the day to accomplish every task. They grade papers and prepare lesson plans, meet individually with students and coach athletics. They attend department meetings and track data, sponsor clubs and offer tutoring. And then they teach for six hours a day.
But among the countless duties of a teacher, one often gets neglected: communicating with parents. It’s not because that outreach is less important than other assignments. Instead, it’s because the current modes of parent communication are simply too time-consuming for many teachers, argues ed-tech startup FreshGrade, Inc. Phone calls home, emails, and individual parent-teacher conferences may be effective, but they are not always so efficient.
Canadian-based FreshGrade hopes to solve this problem with its digital assessment and communication platform. The company just received a $4.3 million venture capital investment to do just that. While the company is mostly present in Canadian schools and districts, much of the funds, which were raised in a seed round, will be devoted to expanding into K-12 schools throughout North America.
The round was led by NewSchools Venture Fund, Accel Partners, Emerson Collective, and the Social+Capital Partnership.
FreshGrade offers a free membership for parents, students, and teachers to their website, where teachers can create student portfolios for parents to review. The idea is simple: Teachers can quickly capture student learning by taking pictures and short recordings on their phones of kids completing a variety of tasks—from working in groups to giving presentations to taking a quiz. From there, teachers can automatically upload the moment to the student’s portfolio, which can be securely viewed by a parent on a phone, tablet, or computer. Teachers can also record scores on homework, projects, and tests to the portfolio on the spot, allowing for easier real-time data tracking than is available with traditional grade books.
The company also offers a premium version of the product to schools that enables administrators to access more meta-data on the progress of both its students and teachers. The cost of this product is determined on a school-to-school basis, but the company aims to keep it below $10 per student, per school year.
For more news on mergers, acquisitions, and venture capital in education, follow Marketplace K-12’s “K-12 Dealmaking” series.