K12 Inc. — a huge, and often controversial provider of online education — has announced it is rebranding, at the same time it is making a pair of acquisitions that will expand its line of products and services.
The company said its name change, to Stride, Inc., reflects its “continued growth into lifelong learning,” regardless of students’ ages or locations.
At the same time it unveiled the new name, the publicly traded company also said it had acquired a pair of new businesses. The first is Tech Elevator, which provides coding bootcamps in Java, C#, and .NET coding languages. The other is MedCerts, which provides online and hands-on career training courses in healthcare and medical fields as students prepare for national certifications with the support of personal advisers and career coaches.
During this school year, almost 165,000 K-12 students enrolled in the company’s online and blended programs nationwide under the K12 moniker, the announcement says.
K12 Inc., like other virtual education providers, has seen a surge in enrollment during the coronavirus, as families have sought alternatives to their in-person or remote learning options offered by traditional public schools.
Six years ago, K12 rebranded about 10 percent of its business under a new vertical known as Fuel Education, which comprised several personalized learning platforms, professional development resources, consulting tools, and web-based courses.
That was not the company’s only rebrand this year. Earlier in 2020, Fuel Education was renamed K12 Learning Solutions.
This was done to further simplify the brand structure and to better align with the company’s core K-12 offerings, said K12 Inc. spokesperson Mike Kraft.
It’s common for companies across different markets to rebrand their businesses, either in the face of public criticism or simply to signal a new direction as they put a focus on new products and services.
K12 Inc. has long touted its virtual charter schools and other services as providing opportunities for students who have either struggled in traditional brick-and-mortar settings, or whose life circumstances make online academic work a better option.
Yet the company also has faced sharp criticism in a number of states—as have other operators of online charters—over its poor showing on measures of academic progress, as well as its overall status as a for-profit education provider. The company has argued that state accountability systems don’t provide an accurate gauge of its schools’ performances.
Asked by EdWeek Market Brief whether the forthcoming rebrand was a response to its critics, Kraft said the name change nothing to do with feedback the company has received in the marketplace. He said the new name better reflects the company’s evolution and continued growth into lifelong learning.
In its announcement, K12 Inc. said that Stride is a “natural progression” of the company.
K12 Inc., is expected to generate total revenue of $1.5 billion and revenue from career learning programs totaling $250 in fiscal 2021, the announcement says.
“A great education doesn’t stop at high school graduation,” Nate Davis, Stride’s CEO and board chairman, said in a statement. “The Stride brand recognizes that, as a company, we are no longer limited by the boundaries of the K-12 market, and that we are dedicated to supporting lifelong learning and providing personalized, high-quality education in important career pathways that launch good paying careers.”