School by Design Spins Off From Amplify to Form Independent Company

Managing Editor

The educational technology company Amplify is spinning off a service known as School by Design into a new, separate business that will provide schools with data and technical assistance focused on financial and instructional strategy.

School by Design will become its own commercial company and will be led by an Amazon Education executive, Andrew Joseph, who is leaving that post to work with the newly independent business.

The new company will include former Amplify officials who have designed and implemented School by Design’s software platform and provided support to K-12 schools. The board of School by Design will include Vicki Phillips, a former top education official at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and David Stevenson, the executive vice president of Amplify.

School by Design uses a software platform that allows K-12 officials to go put different financial and instructional assumptions and scenarios into the platform and, by tweaking those assumptions, collect customized results.

The company also provides consulting to school officials on how to interpret the results and make changes based on the data.

“It helps schools uncover and clearly see how they’re using instructional resources,” Joseph said in an interview, and figure out “are their resources aligned to their goals?”

One recent example of the platform’s application was a K-12 client using it to alter its schedule in order to carve out more time for planning and collaboration among teachers, he said. Another district used the software to redesign its middle schools with a renewed focus on “personalized learning,” said Joseph, who is leaving his post as head of strategic relations for Amazon education. Joseph is also the co-founder of TenMarks Education, an online math program.

The platform could also help a district analyze whether its instructional resources are being used in schools in an equitable way that benefits all students, rather than just a slice of the population, Joseph said. Or districts could use the software to look for creative ways to manage class sizes, or focus more attention on specific academic subjects and goals, such as science, math, or the arts.

School by Design’s re-launch marks the latest reverberation since the shake-up at Amplify, an educational technology company that rocketed out of the gates a few years ago, only to break apart last year when it could not meet its lofty expectations.

Amplify was the education division of global media giant News Corp., but it fell short of its goals for bringing various tech devices and other products to schools. Last year, News Corp. announced it was selling off Amplify, and shortly afterward, Amplify was sold off to a team of Amplify executives, after big layoffs in the education division.

School by Design’s clients so far have included the Southern Regional Educational Board, which the company said in its announcement has used its software platform and support to help redesign high schools in its member states.

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