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ETCH Weekend Reading 10/29/23
The case for looping, US undergrad enrollment gains, and GoStudent's "mess"
No announcements from me this week, straight to the update!
Funding / M&A
Slooh raises $5M / US, Curriculum Materials / Connecticut Innovations
Vector Solutions acquires PATHWAYos / US, Work-based Learning Content
Bibliu acquires Texas Book Company / UK (US), Curriculum Materials Platform
Rise In acquires Blockbeam / US, Bootcamps (Blockchain)
Here is the narrative that childcare in America is unaffordable and here is the (corroborating) math. To whet your appetite, the average annual cost of infant care in NYC is $45K/year. / via Vogue and Motherly
There are not a whole lot of ways privately funded childcare can get cheaper, but states like Illinois and New Mexico are designing new initiatives, and even new agencies, to try and bring down the costs to parents. / via Chalkbeat Chicago
The unlikely intersection of grade inflation and mastery-based learning. Did you know that, in 2016, 47% of high school students graduated with grades in the A range? This seems like a point in favor of the Carnegie/ETS-led consortium for the adoption of mastery-based learning - if close to a majority of students are getting A’s anyway, what impact do letter grades really have? / via New York Times
I think this trend is, generally, positive. It should de-risk any individual test/course/day in a student’s life - giving more opportunity for personalized learning pathways and focus to building emotional maturity in an increasingly complex world. / via Wall Street Journal
However, even if colleges devalue traditional standardized test scores in admissions (which, who knows?), it is hard for me to believe that they won’t find some new standard to segment their applicant pools. / via Education Week and Inside Higher Ed
Adam Grant advocates for “looping” - where teachers stay with the same group of students across multiple grades. The case for looping makes some intuitive sense to me, but I have not read much about it. If you have thoughts or, even better, reading materials on this topic, please send them my way! / via New York Times Opinion
Similarly, I’d like to read more about how schools/states/districts are navigating facilities maintenance/allocations with alternative providers as the school choice movement continues to evolve. / via Education Week
Whiteboard Advisors provides a helpfully tactical guide to what the K12 ecosystem should expect as ESSER funding runs out. A decline in tutoring spending makes sense (though states may step in to fill this gap). Two other areas where spending may decline that I hadn’t thought about: after-school and summer programming. / via Whiteboard Advisors
Global K12 EdTech spending to balloon to $132B by 2032. Everybody update your pitch decks! Or, if you are feeling ambitious, use this other report that claims the US market on its own will be worth $170B(!) by 2030. / via K12 Dive
Sollers College to cancel $3.4M in student debt to resolve disputes over deceptive ISA ads. There were a couple of years pre-COVID where it looked like income-share agreements (ISAs) might break through into the mainstream of student financing options. Fortunately, income-driven repayment plans do seem to have reached broad-based acceptance, but false advertising from institutions like Sollers is what makes everyone wary of new ideas in the student financing space. / via FTC
For those who would like to continue down the higher ed drama rabbit hole, the worst scandal in American higher education isn’t in the Ivy League. It is at Liberty University. For more on Liberty, you might also enjoy God Forbid and The Righteous Gemstones.1
US Education Department bans transcript withholding. Transcript withholding is one of those things that usually makes sense at the individual level - generally, students owe the institution they are asking for a transcript from money - that ends up having a pernicious effect at the system level. In this case, an estimated 6 million students were effectively blocked from continuing their educational journey, many from institutions that had gone out of business. / via Inside Higher Ed
Colleges saw undergraduate enrollment gains for the first time since the pandemic. The headline tells a simple story, but the reality is more nuanced. The article is worth reading in full to understand what appears to be driving the gains (at community colleges and HBCUs) and losses (at selective institutions) in different sub-categories. / via Chronicle of Higher Education
Handshake invests in bringing government employers onto their platform. The federal government is, of course, the largest employer in the US, so it makes sense that Handshake would prioritize bringing these roles onto the platform. Further, while Coursera does not break out their government segment revenues, it seems to have provided a strong base for the company in both the US and abroad. I would not be surprised to see Handshake take a similar path as it expands its international ambitions. / via Handshake
Speaking of Coursera, the company has done the alignment work to have a number of their microcredential programs recommended for credit in degree programs at the 1,000+ European institutions that participate in the European Credit Transfer Accumulation System. / via Times Higher Education
GoStudent, the $3B EdTech darling, scaled fast and partied hard. The result was a mess. As Sterling Cooper’s Pete Campbell once said, “Not great, Bob!” / via Insider
EdAssist partners with Cengage’s Infosec to deliver employer-paid cybersecurity bootcamps. This partnership makes a lot of sense for Cengage, who emphasized investment in the workforce space in this spring’s funding announcement. It is more interesting to see from EdAssist, which historically focused more on providing traditional degree pathways. It may be a sign of an increased desire to compete with Guild, who has offered bootcamp and other alternative-pathway programs for several years. / via PRNewswire
Wise words from David Wiley, “The internet greatly decreases the degree to which time and distance are obstacles to education…Generative AI greatly reduces the degree to which access to expertise is an obstacle to education.” Wiley also notes that, “30 years [after the internet came into use in education] we’re still struggling to fully unpack its implications.” Keep that timeframe in mind when giving AI hot (and cold!) takes. / via opencontent.org
Related, How AI can teach kids to write - not just cheat. I get the concerns about AI and academic integrity. At the same time, I am more excited by the possibilities it brings. “What the kids are now getting from this AI is what expert writers already have: a big bank of examples that they can draw from when they’re creating.” / via Hechinger Report
AWS launches EdTech-focused accelerator program / via GovTech
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Xeet of the Week
Could not agree more. If you, or a student/young person you know, have this desire, I will happily help source project ideas from the EdTech community.
God Forbid is actually Liberty University. The Righteous Gemstones is not, but I include it here as a (morbid) joke.