April 12, 2023

By Dr. Gene Kerns, Vice President and Chief Academic Officer

I’m writing these words as a completely new brand identity for Renaissance is about to launch.

I’ve been through rebranding projects before. They always involve a new company logo, new colors, a new look for our website and brochures, and a new tagline. In this instance, what’s about to roll out involves all of these elements, but what’s happening at Renaissance in this moment is also much more significant.

You won’t be able to miss the new visual elements, which are creative, original, and eye-catching. While they are important, they’re just surface-level reflections of much deeper and transformational changes that have been happening at Renaissance over the last few years.

Creating a true instructional ecosystem

I stand at this moment both looking back at our company’s history and looking forward to its future. When I joined Renaissance more than 16 years ago, we were broadly known as “the Accelerated Reader company.” In some schools and districts, this may still be the perception of us—as a Wisconsin-based company largely focused on K‒12 student reading practice.

This is one of the reasons for our rebranding.

While there are still many elements of our small-town beginnings deep within our DNA, we’ve also grown well beyond this to become a global education technology provider. Renaissance now serves schools in more than 100 countries with a comprehensive product suite, including:

  • myON, our digital reading platform
  • Freckle, for differentiated practice in math and ELA
  • Star Phonics, a unique phonics screener and diagnostic assessment
  • Lalilo, for foundational literacy instruction and practice
  • Nearpod, for teacher-led instructional delivery
  • FastBridge, an assessment suite for reading, math, and social-emotional behavior
  • eduCLIMBER, for whole child data analysis and reporting

We also recently welcomed GL Education—a leading provider of formative assessments to schools in the UK and Ireland—to the Renaissance family.

teacher helping student with tablet

So, what does this collection of products—many of which just came together over the last several years—mean to schools and districts in 2023?

You’ll hear the word “ecosystem” used a lot in our new Renaissance messaging. While you may also hear that word being used by other edtech companies, in most cases their ecosystems are merely a group of unrelated and disconnected products that are only bound together because they happen to come from the same provider.

In contrast, the Renaissance ecosystem is one in which the elements have been carefully chosen and, perhaps more importantly, can interact dynamically to help you meet every learner’s needs.

How the Renaissance ecosystem powers student learning

So, what does this look like in the classroom? Here are four examples of the Renaissance ecosystem in action:

#1: Differentiate reading and math practice with ease

Once educators assess their students, they often find themselves asking, “What’s next? How can I differentiate instruction and practice most effectively?” Both Star Assessments and FastBridge help you to answer these questions by automatically:

  • Placing students in the most appropriate ELA and math practice in Freckle, and the appropriate foundational literacy lessons in Lalilo
  • Match students with the right digital books and daily news articles in myON
  • Identify students’ reading ranges in Accelerated Reader, in both English and Spanish

As a result, students receive engaging practice that builds on your classroom instruction, so they can master the essential skills they need for success.

#2: Quickly select the right instructional resources

Nearpod has a library of 20,000+ standards-aligned lessons, activities, videos, and more. Star Assessments and Nearpod are now connected through the Star Record Book, meaning that teachers can be instantly directed to ideal ELA and math lessons and resources for a whole class, small groups, or individual students. Teachers can also easily search for Nearpod resources by skill, topic, or keyword.

This functionality will soon be available in FastBridge as well to help streamline the lesson-planning process and eliminate the need for endless internet searches for resources.

#3: Focus on foundational literacy growth and the Science of Reading

With Star Phonics, Renaissance now offers the most comprehensive skills screener for phonics, covering 12 critical categories and 102 essential skills. Star Phonics is built on Science of Reading research and allows you to screen an entire class in just 2‒3 minutes per student.

Once Star Phonics determines a critical skill that students need practice on, a few clicks will make that skill an assignment in Lalilo. Students can use Lalilo both in and out of the classroom, and the program uses colorful graphics, engaging audio, and vocabulary-rich stories to make learning to read fun and exciting.

#4: Understand whole child data

Data from your district’s assessment and practice tools—those from Renaissance and from other providers as well—can flow into eduCLIMBER, which is the only data warehousing and visualization tool available that was designed by educators and purposefully built to meet the needs of a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) framework.

eduCLIMBER not only centralizes your data on a single platform but helps to streamline your paperwork and forms processes—while also helping you to identify the best services and supports for every learner.

Personalize teaching and learning

Learn how the Renaissance ecosystem will help you to drive greater student growth.

Why it’s essential to “See Every Student”

To sum up, “the Accelerated Reader company” of the 1980s and 1990s could help you to foster your students’ love of reading. The Renaissance of today can give you access to so much more, including:

  • A comprehensive suite of assessments for universal screening, progress monitoring, measuring student growth, and more—in both English and Spanish
  • Dynamic and connected practice solutions for foundational literacy, ELA, and mathematics
  • One of the world’s largest libraries of interactive lessons, activities, and videos
  • Whole child data and analytics to better understand each student’s performance and unique needs at every tier of your MTSS

The whole point of our collection of solutions and their dynamic and growing interoperability is to support you in being able to “See Every Student.” You’ll hear this phrase echoing throughout our new messaging and displayed on materials from us. And isn’t this idea at the very core of why so many of us became teachers?

We didn’t go into education because we love to spend our time:

  • Doing paperwork
  • Creating spreadsheets
  • Manually transferring student login information from one app to another
  • Searching the internet for instructional resources that may or may not meet our students’ needs

Instead, we became teachers so we could teach. As a result, we want to maximize the time we’re working with our students and helping them grow, while minimizing the time spent on all other tasks.

happy girl on tablet

An ecosystem of connected resources

In our pre-service naivety, most of us likely didn’t realize the extent of students’ needs, the variety of their starting points, or how world events would exponentially increase both their academic and social-emotional challenges. But these factors should not dissuade us.

We are not afraid of hard work. We simply need the information and tools necessary to get the job done practically. We need an ecosystem of connected resources that:

  • Provides essential insights
  • Saves us time
  • Streamlines reporting
  • Identifies exactly which skills students need help with
  • Serves up resources to support us in teaching those skills, and to support our students in learning them

We don’t want technology to take over teaching, however. We want to keep the teacher at the center of the classroom—another important phrase you’ll hear from us—because Renaissance’s core belief is that technology should always support teachers, and never supplant them.

A renaissance in education technology

Fittingly enough, our name reflects the moment our company is now in. At the core of the word “renaissance” is the meaning of rebirth. Through growth, expansion, and, simply, maturation, “the AR company” is being reborn as something new.

In a moment when schools and districts are facing significant challenges, Renaissance is rising to help meet those needs. This is why, at the same time that I’m looking back at our company’s history, I’m also excited about the solutions we have today, and I’m pondering the promise of enhancements we have coming for you in the future.

Sometimes, rebranding is like updated taillights on a car model that remains essentially the same, or like new bodywork on top of an older chassis. In other instances, the launch of a product or the rebranding of a company is something utterly transformational for the company and its customers.

To give one famous example:

When a classic Super Bowl commercial told us that “1984 wouldn’t be like 1984” because Apple was about to launch the Macintosh, few of us understood that how we interact with technology would soon be transformed—but it was. Later, Steve Jobs told us that the iPhone and iPad would similarly transform our lives, and they certainly have.

I don’t claim to be a visionary like Jobs, and few companies ever get to experience the growth of Apple. Yet, at Renaissance, we are at a special moment in time both for us and for the educators and students we serve.

We hope that you will be a part of this exciting future as a new era in both our company and edtech begins.

Learn more

To learn more about the Renaissance ecosystem and how it can help you to solve key challenges, connect with an expert today.

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