According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 17% of children in the U.S. have some type of learning disability. After personal experiences with an inaccessible industry, co-founders Emily Yudofsky and Stefan Bauer teamed up to create Marker Learning, a learning disability assessment platform.
The year-old startup aims to make learning disability assessments more accessible. Yudofsky knows the importance of accessibility firsthand, as she was fortunate to be diagnosed at an early age.
Yudofsky tells dot.LA she’s thankful for her first grade teacher who recognized she was struggling to read and alerted her parents to seek help. She eventually went on to graduate from Yale and start Found, a metabolic health company that utilizes telemedicine to help people manage their weight.
“Through that experience, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and some other learning disabilities,” Yudofsky says. “I was able to succeed academically with a little bit of grit and the right support, but unfortunately, the vast majority of individuals with learning disabilities don't have the same opportunities that I had.”
Yudofsky says that a private assessment can cost families thousands of dollars, though prices may vary based on location. Her co-founder Bauer had to pay $8,000 for a private market evaluation and unfortunately most insurance plans don’t cover educational assessments.
The startup only charges $995 per session which is a fraction of the average industry costs. But Yudofsky says that Marker does offer payment plans for families who need that option. Marker also works directly with school districts and charter school networks to deliver its services at no cost to the family.
Unlike many evaluations in the field, Marker isn’t just testing for one learning disability, its algorithm is able to assess for any reading, writing, math, learning or attention disability.
Private evaluations are typically done in an in-person setting but Marker utilizes telemedicine to deliver evaluations in the comfort of students' homes.
“Marker’s mission is ensuring that all students, regardless of their background, or socioeconomic status, have the same opportunities that were afforded to Stephen and I,” Yudofsky says, “and really offer the highest quality of valuation and support services to those with learning disabilities.”
To ensure they could provide a high quality service, the co-founders spent the first five months learning from experts in the field, including psychologists from Johns Hopkins and Columbia University. Yudofsky said they wanted to understand how these professionals administered these evaluations. The time spent with them allowed the team to build algorithms that replicate what psychologists can do.
The psychologists in Marker’s network come from job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn, but Yudofsky says “it has been relatively easy for us to recruit in this capacity and I think the reason for that is we're able to offer psychologists a work path that hasn't been available to them in the past, with flexible hours and we pay them a very competitive salary.”
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