Working Group F
Investors & Entrepreneurs

How do investors and entrepreneurs view efficacy research? What motivates them to invest in efficacy research? Do investors and entrepreneurs view efficacy research similarly? Are they seeing returns on research investments? Are they seeing any notable trends? How often are entrepreneurs asked by potential customers for research?

Working Group F: Blog
Investors & Entrepreneurs
October 5, 2016

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of new technologies that purport to improve education. Unlike in other areas of development and investment, relatively little attention has been paid to demonstrating the effectiveness of new products through generally accepted methods (such as assessing improvements in student test scores or other evidence of student learning).

As a result, it’s possible – even likely – that time (of students and teachers) and money (from investors and schools/districts) are being wasted on products that are not actually effective.

Our working group is seeking to understand how stakeholders (investors, developers, established vendors, and others) define the effectiveness of products and value (or don’t) evidence of such effectiveness. We are also seeking to identify ways to promote and value research in this area, perhaps through a set of standards that could facilitate high-quality yet cost-effective and efficient research.


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Working Group F
Blogs
Working Group Leader
Susan Fuhrman
President
Teachers College, Columbia University
Research Lead
Working Group Members
Andrew Smith
Director of Innovation
Rowan-Salisbury Schools (NC)
Bill Hughes
President
Open4 Learning
Brad Lane
Co-founder & CEO
RIDGE-LANE Limited Partners
Dror Ben-Naim
CEO
Smart Sparrow
Eric Chagala
Principal
Vista Innovation & Design Academy (VIDA) (CA)
Eric Westendorf
Co-Founder & CEO
LearnZillion
James Tieng
Principal
Quad Partners
Jason Palmer
General Partner
New Markets Venture Partners
Lawrence Friedman
Vice President
American Institutes for Research
Rusty Greiff
Managing Director for Education Ventures
1776
Stephen Smith
President, Advising & Admissions Solutions
Hobsons
Thomas Ralston
Superintendent
Avonworth School District (PA)
Logistics Lead
Torra Haynes
Executive Assistant to the President
Teachers College, Columbia University
Susan Fuhrman
President
Teachers College, Columbia University
Susan is immediate past President of the National Academy of Education, founding Director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), and previously Dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
Andrew Smith
Director of Innovation
Rowan-Salisbury Schools (NC)
Andrew works on instructional technology and professional development for using that technology. Previously he taught biology and forensics in a 21st century classroom at East Rowan High School.
Bill Hughes
President
Open4 Learning
Bill is President and Founder of Open4 Learning, an ed tech innovation company. For the past decade, he has pioneered groundbreaking solutions and strategies in ed tech, most recently as Chief Strategy Officer at Learning Objects.
Brad Lane
Co-founder & CEO
RIDGE-LANE Limited Partners
R. Brad Lane is the Chief Executive Officer of RIDGE-LANE Limited Partners, an investment-bank founded with The Honorable Thomas J. Ridge, which sponsors public-private partnerships to improve the nation’s infrastructure, economic development programs to spur growth in metropolitan cities and specialty venture development for private growth companies. He founded Lane Financial Corporation, a multi-family office providing global wealth management strategies for high-net-worth individuals, where he served as Managing Partner of Atlas Capital, the $12 billion subsidiary B/D structuring initial public offerings in Technology & Healthcare and alternative investments in Real Estate.
Dror Ben-Naim
CEO
Smart Sparrow
Dror is the founder and CEO of Smart Sparrow, an ed-tech start-up based in San Francisco and Sydney, Australia, pioneering adaptive and personalized learning technology. He previously served as co-director of the Center of Education Through eXploration at ASU.
Eric Chagala
Principal
Vista Innovation & Design Academy (VIDA) (CA)
Eric is the founding Principal of the Vista Innovation & Design Academy (VIDA) in Vista, California, a Digital Promise/Verizon Innovative Learning School with 1:1 iPad technology for students. His research is around the critical resiliency of low-income, high achieving, Latino youth in the San Diego area.
Eric Westendorf
Co-Founder & CEO
LearnZillion
LearnZillion supports teachers in providing the education that every student deserves. Prior to founding LearnZillion, Eric served as principal and chief academic officer at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School and as Executive Director at National Teaching Academy.
James Tieng
Principal
Quad Partners
James is an education investor focused on growth capital and buyouts across the age spectrum. He has 10+ years of private equity experience across middle market and large cap global funds, having completed $3 billion of transactions in a variety of industries.
Jason Palmer
General Partner
New Markets Venture Partners
Jason brings twenty years of experience as an education technology entrepreneur, executive and investor. Prior to joining New Markets, Jason served as Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he led postsecondary innovation efforts to improve the outcomes of low-income, minority and first-generation college students.
Lawrence Friedman
Vice President
American Institutes for Research
Lawrence contributes to the leadership and strategic direction of AIR's education work. He leads the program’s System Supports portfolio, directs the AIR State and Local Evaluation Center, and leads or advises on a range of large-scale evaluation and research studies of K–12 education reform issues. He previously served as a chief program officer at Learning Point Associates.
Rusty Greiff
Managing Director for Education Ventures
1776
Most recently, Rusty served as Chief Strategy & Development Officer and co-founder of SF-based Learnist, one of the fastest growing social learning and curation companies in the country with over 25 million global users. Rusty was also a founding executive team and Board member of Grockit, a pioneering social and adaptive learning company serving over 5 million students globally that was acquired by Kaplan Test Prep in August, 2013. Before joining the Grockit/Learnist team, Rusty held senior online learning, executive corporate development, President/GM operating positions with Educate, Inc. one of the largest supplemental education companies in the U.S.
Stephen Smith
President, Advising & Admissions Solutions
Hobsons
Stephen joined Hobsons in 2007 through the acquisition of Naviance, where as co-founder and chief executive he led the company in creating the leading college and career readiness platform for schools and districts. Stephen has been a board member at College Possible and faculty member at Johns Hopkins University.
Susan Fuhrman
President
Teachers College, Columbia University
Susan is immediate past President of the National Academy of Education, founding Director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), and previously Dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
Thomas Ralston
Superintendent
Avonworth School District (PA)
Prior to becoming Superintendent, Thomas served as principal of the Avonworth Middle School for six years. Before Avonworth, he worked as the principal of South Side Middle School in Hookstown, Pennsylvania.Thomas began his teaching career in the Hancock County School District in West Virginia, serving as a middle school science teacher from 1990 to 1996.
Torra Haynes
Executive Assistant to the President
Teachers College, Columbia University
Torra has been with Teachers College for almost three years. Prior to that time, she served as a manager in the Dean's Office at Columbia University and as an executive assistant at Morgan Stanley.
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