Illuminate Education Acquires Homegrown Data Visualization Tool, eduCLIMBER

Mergers and Acquisitions

Illuminate Education Acquires Homegrown Data Visualization Tool, eduCLIMBER

By Tony Wan     Dec 14, 2017

Illuminate Education Acquires Homegrown Data Visualization Tool, eduCLIMBER

What began as a husband-and-wife skunkworks project in rural Wisconsin four years ago has now become absorbed into an education data company that boasts millions of users across 44 states.

In 2013, systems engineer Matt Harris wrote a program to help his wife, a school psychologist, collect and analyze data to help her students. From there the tool spread via word of mouth, and within six months the pet project became a company, eduCLIMBER, where Matt was CEO.

This week, eduCLIMBER was acquired by Illuminate Education, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of data, assessment and reporting tools for K-12 schools and districts.

“What we saw was a complementary set of capabilities that aligned with what we were doing to expose data that shows the whole picture of a student,” says Max Carnecchia, who recently joined Illuminate Education as its CEO in October. Conversations with the eduCLIMBER team about a potential acquisition, he adds, began earlier this spring, before he joined.

Having been on the job for barely three months, Carnecchia, a newcomer to the education industry, says what struck him most was “the amount of pressure, competing initiatives and conflicting messages that we send to teachers. It’s mind-boggling to me how effective they are in that environment.”

Asking educators to collect and derive meaningful insights from globs of data systems only makes their jobs harder. But Carnecchia believes this acquisition will help Illuminate “put the right data in front of educators in a frictionless, easy way to use.”

EduCLIMBER allows users to import academic and behavioral data from other tools into a system that organizes the information to help educators analyze trends and students’ progress towards goals. Educators can also look at individual student records to see a combined report of historical and current data, including whether the pupil has been flagged for intervention and other types of supports.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The staff at eduCLIMBER will join Illuminate, which now numbers 220 employees after this transaction.

For now, eduCLIMBER’s existing users should expect no dramatic changes to the product, which can pass data to and from Illluminate’s systems. But integration between the two systems are underway, says Carnecchia, and in time the eduCLIMBER brand “will fade away.” His vision is that “the user interfaces and workflows will become so seamless you won’t know the difference between [the two tools].” This work could take up to 18 months.

The deal also gives Illuminate a stronger foothold in Wisconsin, which “hasn’t been a huge state for us,” Carnecchia adds. Close to 75 percent of the 250 districts using eduCLIMBER are in Wisconsin, where the tool was born.

Illuminate Education was founded in 2009 and claims more than 5.4 million users across 1,600 school districts. It is majority-owned by Insight Venture Partners, a private equity firm whose education portfolio includes Achieve3000, Frontline Education and Turnitin.

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