News + Ideas
NewSchools Venture Fund Invests in Goalbook to Revolutionize Special Needs Education
October 18, 2012
Innovative platform enables everyone on the student’s team to collaborate and celebrate student progress.
October 18, 2012—Oakland, CA— NewSchools Venture Fund today announced a $200,000 investment in Goalbook, the first social and mobile platform for special education teachers and administrators to manage student individual learning plans. The NewSchools investment leads a $915K Seed Round, which included Rethink Education, Ed-Mentor, Patient Capital Collaborative, Greg Gunn, Steve Shulman, and Joe Gleberman. The investment will be used to scale the company and develop a best-in-class “Goalbook Toolkit,” an online set of individualized goals, fully aligned to the Common Core State Standards, which will include assessments, instructional resources, and videos to aid special education teachers.
“The importance of Goalbook’s innovation can’t be overstated,” said NewSchools CEO Ted Mitchell. “This represents an important shift in the way we organize the delivery of education to students with special needs. We see far too few tools and services for this important demographic.”
Thirteen percent of America’s public school students receive special education services. According to federal regulations, special education students must have a signed Individual Education Plan, or IEP, that is reviewed annually to determine how well a district’s program is meeting a student’s unique needs. The student’s “team” is generally comprised of the student’s teachers, special educators, administrators, and parents. Though IEPs are intended to be helpful plans, they are often static documents that are updated only several times a year, and are not even accessible to many educators who work with the student.
Goalbook creates a living, breathing profile for students with special needs, providing an easy-to-access IEP summary, and empowering all team members with a forum to communicate and share student data securely, and in real-time. Schools that use Goalbook report having more efficient IEP meetings, improved communication, reduced paperwork, and significantly higher compliance rates.
“We now receive so much more data from everyone on the students’ IEP teams,” said Susan Hoyer, a special education teacher at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in lllinois. “Every day I look at my students’ data, and I am able to plan more specifically around what I want to focus on with my students. Goalbook has helped me become a more effective teacher.”
Federal laws also define a strict set of regulations for special education, with 814 compliance requirements in total. School districts often have difficulty implementing the required program, and teachers are left to spend significant amounts of time on paperwork and compliance in addition to their teaching requirements.
Goalbook has launched two important features to improve the cumbersome reporting process for special educators: a “Service Delivery” module, which tracks service minutes online for teachers, therapists and specialists and automates the reporting for administrators; and a “Timelines” module which tracks the multiple dates and deadlines special educators must meet throughout the year.
“For years we’ve been under a Federal Consent Decree requiring stringent tracking of our special education department for all procedural requirements under IDEA,” said Carolyn Schwartzbord, Assistant Superintendent of Ravenswood City School District in California. “Goalbook’s easy-to-use interface saves our special educators time and allows our administrators to monitor compliance efficiently by viewing real-time reports. In all, our compliance rates have increased to above 90%.”
The company will be launching its new product, Toolkit, in November with several district partners. Toolkit will allow special educators to discover and customize high-quality IEP goals that are fully aligned to the Common Core standards, and have related instructional resources, assessments, and accommodations to help teachers implement the goals.
“Without solutions like Toolkit, we run the risk of once again segregating our students with special needs to a less rigorous and less rich academic curriculum,” said Richard Nyankori, former head of special education for DC Public Schools. “Goalbook’s Toolkit will be instrumental in providing students with special needs access to the Common Core.”
“We’re excited to help districts solve their most pressing challenges around special education. Goalbook provides the next-generation set of tools to improve quality of instruction, ensure compliance, and help teams collaborate more effectively to achieve student success,” said founder Daniel Jhin Yoo. “NewSchools’ commitment to transforming education is inspirational. Their unparalleled expertise and network in the space will be invaluable as we continue to scale Goalbook’s impact, and ensure every student receives a personalized education that meets the student’s unique learning needs.”
NewSchools Venture Fund is a not-for-profit organization working to close the achievement gap by funding and supporting entrepreneurs who are creating innovative solutions to the problems in public education so that all children have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. Since our founding in 1998, NewSchools has invested $180 million in more than 90 nonprofit and for-profit educational organizations working to promote student achievement. Recognizing that neither private charity nor capital markets alone are enough to solve the problem of education inequality, we blend the best of both approaches to ensure an excellent education is available to every child. We actively share what we’ve learned through our investments, bring together educational leaders from across the country, and advocate for smart policies at the federal level. Learn more at www.newschools.org.
Goalbook has created the first social and mobile platform for teachers and administrators to more effectively design and implement individual learning plans for students. With its platform being used by hundreds of schools and districts across the country, Goalbook creates a living, breathing profile for students with special needs, and empowers all team members to access and share student data securely, and in real-time. In addition, two features improve the cumbersome reporting process for special educators: a “Service Delivery” module which tracks service minutes; and a “Timelines” module which tracks compliance deadlines. Schools that use Goalbook report having more efficient IEP meetings, improved communication, reduced paperwork, and significantly higher compliance rates. The company’s new product, Toolkit, will allow special educators to discover and customize high-quality IEP goals that are fully aligned to the Common Core standards, and have related instructional resources, assessments, and accommodations to help teachers implement the goals. Learn more at goalbookapp.com.