By guest blogger Kevin Connors
Let’s eat Grandma. Let’s eat, Grandma.
See, punctuation saves lives!
Although exciting to English teachers, punctuation and grammar aren’t typically as exciting to students, and unfortunately, this lack of enthusiasm may be translating into their test scores. According to the College Board and ACT, the lowest-scoring section on the SAT and ACT for nearly a decade has been grammar and writing.
Enter Jeff Schuer, the former high school English teacher and founder of NoRedInk, an online tool that teaches grammar and writing by using content from students’ favorite TV shows, hobbies, and general interests.
Since its inception in 2012, the San Francisco-based company has not only garnered the attention of students and schools, but also investors. NoRedInk recently closed a Series A round worth $6 million.
True Ventures led the round, with additional participation from The Social+Capital Partnership, Kapor Capital and ReThink Education. The company has now raised a total of $8 million of venture capital.
Jon Callaghan, founder of True Ventures, told the Wall St. Journal that NoRedInk offers an opportunity to invest in one of the few ed-tech startups focused on writing skills. And as grammar and writing continue to be emphasized in the common core and standardized tests, investors expect demand for NoRedInk to keep growing.
For teachers, Schuer believes NoRedInk’s adaptive learning tool offers a more effective and efficient way to teach grammar and writing.
“Because multiple choice tests aren’t a great way to learn, we’re focused on building an authentic, personalized curriculum that inspires kids to think creatively and help them write better,” Scheur said in a recent statement. “Teachers spend a tremendous amount of time grading papers, and yet students are rarely able to use the feedback because they’re discouraged by all the red ink without a clear path to getting better. We’re trying to change that.”
NoRedInk’s free version provides students with unlimited access to tutorials and practice of rudimentary grammar skills. Teachers then receive basic diagnostic data on strengths and weaknesses for individuals and entire classes. A premium version was also released five months ago, which features a broader curriculum and more robust reporting system. Over 100 schools and districts are currently paying for NoRedInk Premium.
The company says it will use the new funds to hire more engineers and teachers as it looks to expand its curriculum and reach more users.
For more news on mergers, acquisitions, and venture capital in education, follow Marketplace K-12’s “K-12 Dealmaking” series.