Waterford Acquires Digital Reading Platform Curriculet

Managing Editor

The Waterford Institute, a provider of tech-based literacy products, has acquired Curriculet, a company that weaves digital assessments and annotations into written texts, including newspaper stories, but which ceased operations this year.

The acquisition is being described by Waterford Institute officials as a way to expand and diversify their portfolio of services focused on building students’ literacy skills and build their capacity to read an array of engaging and increasingly complex materials.

Curriculet has been a digital reading platform that allowed for the embedding of notes, questions, and quizzes into online content, but it folded its operations earlier this year after failing to find a sustainable market.

The amount of the acquisition was not disclosed.

Last year, Curriculet had announced that it had reached a commercial partnership with a huge media organization, USA Today, that would allow teachers to use digital assessments and annotations into texts of the newspaper’s stories. The organizations said at the time that the agreement would help broaden students’ understanding of civics and current events, with both sides taking in revenue when buyers in K-12 schools used the program.

That relationship and others with news organizations that Curriculet had established have ended, said Andy Myers, the chief operating officer of the Waterford Institute, in an interview. But Waterford has had some discussions about re-engaging with those news organizations, and is “optimistic” about doing so, he said.

The Waterford Institute, based in Salt Lake City and in operation for more than 40 years, offers a variety of cloud-based literacy curricula, assessment, and content tools that it seeks to customize to meet the needs of children in pre-K through 6th grade.

The organization sees a natural fit with Curriculet, which is a self-guided independent reading platform. Curriculet’s tools offer “dynamic instructional content” for each text that are designed to appeal to students and meet teachers’ instructional needs, according to Waterford.

Initially, Waterford will focus on using and enhancing Curriculet’s tool for grades 3-6, but eventually it will tap into its reading resources through grade 12, Myers said.

‘Essential Next Step’

Waterford officials are not yet certain about whether it will continue to use the name Curriculet for the products it brings into its fold, Myers said.

But Waterford will overhaul core aspects of Curriculet’s business strategy, he said. Previously, Curriculet was a “freemium model” and offered 100 percent online, Myers said. The free portion had been limited to only reading titles that have existed in the public domain, he said.

That meant that users had to read all titles 100 percent digitally through a device, limiting students who do not have sustained access to a web browser, said Myers.

Waterford’s version of Curriculet will be different in that the company will sell a paid subscription to teachers to access all of the activities and assessments for both the digital Curriculet library and hundreds of print library titles. What that means is that students who don’t have devices at home, or who are not in a 1-to-1 computing environment at school, will be able to read books in print–and then log in to any browser for just a few minutes to take an assessment when they’re done reading.
That approach will allow teachers to gain the same reporting and insights about student learning for both digital reading and print reading, Myers said.
“We think it’s a perfect fit for Waterford,” Myers said. “We look at Curriculet as the essential next step for children after they’ve completed the basics with Waterford…We know that once students have that foundation in reading, the best thing for them to do is read more. [Curriculet helps] match their interests and their level of reading.”

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