Jefferson Education Accelerator
According to a recent estimate, the educational-technology market is an $8 billion industry. In 2014 alone, venture capitalists invested $643 million into K-12 ed tech, a 32 percent increase over the previous year. Consequently, district and university leaders across the country are besieged by companies promising their products will revolutionize the educational system.
“Every day, our emails fill up with messages from people telling us, ‘We have solutions for the problems you’re trying to solve,’” said one superintendent. “Sometimes, they’re sharing research; sometimes, it’s bells and whistles. We have precious dollars to invest, and we need to invest them well.” Determining the merits of each vendor’s products can be daunting and time-consuming.
As a result, district and university leaders often find themselves making most of their decisions about what to fund, what to buy and what makes it into the classroom based on sales, marketing and branding as opposed to empirical data generated by independent researchers.
 Washington-based Software & Information Industry Association
 NewSchools Venture Fund
The Jefferson Education Accelerator addresses this challenge by providing educators with innovation backed by scientific evidence. Through the Curry School, the growth-stage companies are connected with K-12 districts and colleges where their products can be tested by academic researchers from the University of Virginia and other higher education institutions.
A scientific review board made up of Curry School faculty oversees the quality of the research, and accelerator partner company receives a suite of services tailored to meet their needs. Types of research offered can range from small, rapid-response reviews intended to improve products to providing mentorship and strategic support for ambitious investigations with experimental designs. All of the results are made public, regardless of whether they are positive or negative.
Companies give a small portion of their equity to the accelerator in return for the help they receive. In the future, returns from the equity investments in the successful companies will enable the Jefferson Education Accelerator to become a more self-sustaining entity. The Curry School will also benefit when the companies are successful. The money can then be invested in other products to further the School’s mission.
With your support, the Curry School—through the Jefferson Education Accelerator—can work to ensure that merit, not marketing, drives which ed-tech products and services end up in our schools, allowing us to have an immediate and long-term impact on education—and society as a whole.
The Curry School’s partnership with the Jefferson Education Accelerator has resulted in collaborations with five companies that have sought to gauge the effectiveness of their education technology products and services.
This fiscal year, we aspire to raise $1.5 million in support of the ongoing operations of the Jefferson Education Accelerator. Through our partnership with the accelerator, we have the potential to transform our nation’s classrooms by providing them with the most relevant, verifiable ed-tech products and services. We are looking to partner with donors who appreciate the value of providing our teachers and students with technological products that will improve the educational process at every level. This development will in turn advance the Curry School’s mission to bring innovative solutions to large-scale education challenges.
IN THE NEWS
HECHINGER REPORT: The biggest tech trendsetter you know just may be – your local teacherBart Epstein, Founding CEO of the Jefferson Education Accelerator, makes the case that if "we give teachers more say and better decision-support tools, we should expect to see more of the most effective ed tech tools rise to the top."
The Journal: NERD Undertakes Cataloging of 10,000 Ed Researchers
Expanding Access to Edtech Isn't Enough. We Need to Make Sure It Works, TooHigh-impact practices and technologies remain comfortably at the “pilot” stage, never achieving the transformative scale they promise because little is known about effective scaling across diverse school and district contexts.This May, these leaders and another 150 or so stakeholders will come together for the first ever EdTech Efficacy Research Academic Symposium, organized by The University of Virginia Curry School of Education, Digital Promise and the Jefferson Education Accelerator.