Formative Raises $70M as Edtech Goes Back to School

Sarah Favot

Favot is an award-winning journalist and adjunct instructor at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She previously was an investigative and data reporter at national education news site The 74 and local news site LA School Report. She's also worked at the Los Angeles Daily News. She was a Livingston Award finalist in 2011 and holds a Master's degree in journalism from Boston University and BA from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

Formative Raises $70M as Edtech Goes Back to School

Craig Jones, co-founder and CEO of Formative, a platform that helps teachers track real-time student data, wants to live in a world where students don't have to take a final exam at the end of the school year.

Founded in 2013, his software platform allows teachers to see students' level of comprehension and achievement in real time, allowing teachers to assess students as they learn and adjust the curriculum to focus on areas where students may need more help.


"There will be a day where students don't take a big test at the end of the year as a school's primary way to assess student learning," Jones said in an interview.

The software enables teachers to give timely feedback to the student, rather than students having to wait for teachers to grade an exam for the entire class.

Jones wants to build even more features for teachers and more services for school leaders. On Tuesday, he got a boost to do just that with a $70 million Series A funding round led by global growth investor Summit Partners, with participation from existing investors including Emerson Collective, Fika Ventures, Mac Ventures and Rethink Education.

He said the company plans to triple its headcount to 150 this year as they build partnerships with top content providers and publishers and expand into additional markets.

Jones started creating solutions to help improve data collection and feedback for his students when he was teaching for Teach For America at a Los Angeles Unified School District middle school from 2008 to 2012. Jones then went on to co-found the company with Kevin McFarland in 2013 when they were UCLA graduate students.

Formative, like many edtech companies, saw growth during the pandemic, becoming an integral part of the classroom as learning shifted online, after Formative launched its COVID assistance program. That program gave teachers and their students free access to features that would normally cost money.

The company found many of those teachers kept using its service even as they returned to their classrooms.

"We were feeling like the solution that helped them during the virtual environment was just as applicable and maybe even more useful when they had all the students in the same room," Jones said. "It put us in the position where the growth would sustain into the future…and we would be part of the future of what school looks like."

Formative assessments, from which the company gets its name, have become more common in classrooms recently. Formative assessments include things like short, informal quizzes at the end of the lesson, or even in the middle, that can give teachers a snapshot of a student's understanding.

Experts have encouraged teachers to use them to improve student learning, rather than wait for "summative" assessments like a final exam or a standardized test. The approach gives educators timely data that indicate students' skill level and their progress toward learning standards before a course has been completed.

Inspired by the concept, Formative lets students submit video and audio clips, images, drawings or file uploads to respond to questions. In addition to instant results, teachers can see their students' performance over a longer period of time.

Formative said four million students engaged with the platform in the past year. The company added that it has an annual recurring revenue growth of about 700%.

Jones said 92% of all school districts in the U.S. have at least one teacher who uses Formative. Some school districts such as Omaha Public Schools, Atlanta Public Schools and Portland Public Schools have contracts with Formative.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Los Angeles’ Wage Growth Outpaced Inflation. Here’s What That Means for Tech Jobs

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Los Angeles’ Wage Growth Outpaced Inflation. Here’s What That Means for Tech Jobs

Inflation hit cities with tech-heavy workforces hard last year. Tech workers fortunate enough to avoid layoffs still found themselves confronting rising costs with little change in their pay.

Those national trends certainly touched down in Los Angeles, but new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the city of angels was the only major metro area that saw its wage growth grow by nearly 6% while also outpacing the consumer price index, which was around 5%. Basically, LA was the only area where adjusted pay actually came out on a net positive.

So, what does this mean for tech workers in LA County?

Read moreShow less
https://twitter.com/samsonamore
samsonamore@dot.la

Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors
Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash

The Inflation Reduction Act contains almost $400 billion in funding for clean energy initiatives. There’s $250 billion for energy projects. $23 billion for transportation and EVs. $46 billion for environment. $21 billion for agriculture, and so on. With so much cash flowing into the sector, the possibilities for investment and growth are gigantic.

These investment opportunities, however, have typically been inaccessible for everyday retail investors until much later in a company’s development–after an IPO, usually. Meaning that the best returns are likely to be captured by banks and other institutions who have the capital and financing to invest large sums of money earlier in the process.

That’s where Pasadena-based Energy Shares comes in. The company wants to help democratize access to these investment opportunities and simultaneously give early-stage utility-scale energy projects another revenue stream.

Read moreShow less

How These Ukranian Entrepreneurs Relocated Their Startups to LA and Found Success

Aisha Counts
Aisha Counts is a business reporter covering the technology industry. She has written extensively about tech giants, emerging technologies, startups and venture capital. Before becoming a journalist she spent several years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
How These Ukranian Entrepreneurs Relocated Their Startups to LA and Found Success
Joey Mota

Fleeing war and chasing new opportunities, more than a dozen Ukrainian entrepreneurs have landed in Los Angeles, finding an unexpected community in the city of dreams. These entrepreneurs have started companies that are collectively worth more than $300 million, in industries ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to audience monetization platforms to social networks.

Dot.LA spent an evening with this group of Ukrainian citizens, learning what it was like to build startups in Ukraine, to cope with the unimaginable fear of fleeing war, and to garner the resilience to rebuild.

Read moreShow less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending