|Headquarters||Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin|
|Key people||Judith and Terrance Paul (founders)|
|Products||Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Math|
|Revenue||$120.82 million (2005)|
|Net income||$19.1 million|
|Employees||956 (February 1, 2006)|
|Subsidiaries||AlphaSmart; Humanities Software, Inc.; Renaissance Learning UK Ltd.; Renaissance Corporate Services|
Renaissance Learning Inc. (RLI) is an educational software and hardware company headquartered in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, USA, with offices in Canada and the United Kingdom. The company is owned by Permira. The company creates educational software and hardware for K-12 schools and over 67,000 schools in the United States use its software. The company's software includes applications for reading, math, language acquisition, and early literacy. Most of the company's software products are daily task management or progress-monitoring tools for academic skills (e.g., math practice). Since the 2005 acquisition of AlphaSmart, the company has also provided hardware to assist with writing, scoring tests, and other educational tasks.
- 1 History
- 2 Subsidiaries
- 3 Assessment philosophy
- 4 Software platforms
- 5 Reading software
- 6 Math software
- 7 Other software
- 8 Hardware
- 9 Evaluation of Renaissance Learning products
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Accelerated Reader, the company's flagship product, was created in 1985 by Judith and Terrance "Terry" Paul, who founded the company in 1986 under the name "Advantage Learning Systems" (ALS). The company's name changed to "Renaissance Learning, Inc." (RLI) in 2001. At one time, the couple owned about 75% of RLI. As of October 16, 2011 Renaissance Learning was no longer being traded as a public company. In August of 2011 the company was bought by the British company Permira.
- Renaissance Learning of Canada Co., Nova Scotia, Canada*
- Renaissance Learning UK Limited, United Kingdom*
- RL Investments, Inc., Nevada, USA*
- RL Asset Management, Inc., Nevada, USA*
- Advantage Learning Systems INDIA Pvt. Ltd (wholly owned subsidiary closed on March 2009, after 11 years of operation).
* Source: Annual Report, Form 10-K, 2005
Renaissance Learning, Inc. develops three types of progress-monitoring assessments, or "Tiers", into which most of the software created by the company fits. The company's pyramidal logo is a metaphor for the purpose and use of its software.
- Tier 1: Daily progress monitoring
"Tier 1" assessments are daily progress-monitoring assessments, which are designed to monitor skills practice and provide feedback on the impact of instruction. This software provides the most information, often on a daily basis; thus, this tier is larger than the others. For example, Accelerated Reader monitors reading practice and provides information on how well students are reading. Tier 1 software includes Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Math, Accelerated Vocabulary, Accelerated Grammar & Spelling, and Accelerated Writer.
- Tier 2: Periodic progress monitoring
"Tier 2" assessments are periodic progress-monitoring assessments designed to provide information about student achievement two to ten times per year with at least monthly intervals. These assessments fit between daily and high-stakes annual tests (Tier 3). Tier 2 software includes STAR Reading, STAR Math, and STAR Early Literacy. (See STAR (software) for an overview of the STAR Assessments.)
- Tier 3: Annual high-stakes tests
"Tier 3" assessments are high-stakes assessments, such as state tests. Although the company provides a Tier 3-type assessment, AssessmentMaster,* Tier 3 assessments are usually state tests not provided by RLI.
Desktop versions of Renaissance Learning software are designed to run in client-server or standalone environments, using Renaissance Learning proprietary databases, on Macintosh, Windows or Novell networks, to Macintosh or Windows clients, and as standalone installations.
Client-server software / web-based software
Renaissance Place, a newer, web-based system, runs on a Windows server platform and delivers a front end to any computer on any platform, with only a web browser required. Renaissance Place hosts most of the software and all three types of assessment created by Renaissance Learning. Instead of installing software on each computer, Renaissance Place allows students, teachers, and administrators to access all of the purchased software in one place.
Accelerated Reader, the company's flagship software created in 1985 and defined as "reading management software," is intended to help "teachers guide students' independent reading practice and motivate students to read more books." "AR" is an assessment that determines whether a student has read a book, with more efficiency, speed, and accuracy than a book report would because it is computer-scored. The software provides additional information to teachers about reading rates, amount of reading, and other variables related to reading. The company also offers a version for use by entire school districts with a library of quizzes.
STAR Early Literacy is a computer-adaptive diagnostic assessment of literacy skills of students in grades Pre-K through 3. It assesses phonemic awareness, phonics, and other readiness and literacy skills, and identifies strengths and weaknesses in these skills.
English in a Flash
English in a Flash is a language acquisition tool for grades K through 12 for use with English Language Learners (ELLs) and English as a Second Language (ESL) students. It aims to help students build vocabulary and grammar.
Read Now Power Up!
Read Now Power Up! is a reading intervention program for students in grades 5 through 9 that combines Steck Vaughn's Power Up! with Read Now. It contains lessons, activities, and reading materials intended to motivate students and provide teachers with information to address individual needs.
Fluent Reader allows students to practice reading texts out loud, into the computer, to diagnose their reading and pronunciation capabilities. The package comes with Audio CDs so that students can listen to reading passages. The passages are available at several grade levels, and include phonics practice as an option. Fluent Reader uses the Renaissance Place framework and other software for its recording capabilities.
Accelerated Math, a "math management program for grade 1 through calculus," is designed to work with any curriculum or textbook. It generates "personalized math assignments at each student's level," and scores the assignments via scanner. It also provides reports and record-keeping functions to monitor student progress and address individual needs. Accelerated Math Enterprise, which is available for use with entire school districts, offers the entire math library, from first grade math to calculus.
STAR Math, a computer adaptive math test and database, provides norm-referenced math scores for students in grades 1 through 12 and provides data on individual progress.
MathFacts in a Flash
MathFacts in a Flash is software intended to enhance the mastery of computational fluency. Similar to math flash cards on a computer, it provides practice with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and other math facts. It allows students to work at their own pace and provides immediate feedback on areas of difficulty. It includes timed tests and reports of individual progress.
- Renaissance Place (see above)
- The 2Know! Classroom Response System comes with software called 2Know! Toolbar, which assists with receiving and scoring response from the 2Know!
- Accelerated Vocabulary, now part of Accelerated Reader Enterprise Edition.
- AccelTest, software for creating quizzes and tests
Renaissance Learning began providing educational hardware with the acquisition of AlphaSmart in 2005. The company's 2Know! Classroom Response System is intended to aid classroom participation and assessment. Each student uses a wireless handheld device with a small LCD screen and a number of buttons, including a phone-type number pad, ABCDE voting buttons, True/False buttons, and other buttons. Using wireless technology, teachers can post questions and receive student responses without using paper-and-pencil quizzes or raise-your-hand techniques. The system can use built-in assessments or teacher-made assessments. The hardware also comes with software to help receiving and scoring information from the 2Know!.
Evaluation of Renaissance Learning products
The Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center ranked Renaissance Learning's comprehensive school reform model as third of 22 models. "Sharing Success," a project that is "publicly funded by the New York State Legislature and the Governor's Office to identify and disseminate successful educational programs and practices statewide," favorably reviewed the research on Renaissance Learning's products.
In 2006, an online survey by eSchool News found that Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Vocabulary, English in a Flash, Fluent Reader, STAR Early Literacy, and Read Now Power Up! were among some of the best reading software and Accelerated Math was among some of the best math software.
- Key statistics for Renaissance Learning Inc.; Yahoo!Finance; retrieved September 30, 2006.
- Renaissance Learning 2006 10-K, retrieved September 30, 2006.
- Yahoo! Finance profile of Renaissance Learning, Inc.
- Northwest Regional Education Laboratory description of the "School Renaissance" system.
- National Center for Student Progress Monitoring webpage
- Consolidated Balance Sheet Form 10-Q, filed 8/13/2001.
- Information regarding the UK division
- Annual Report, Form 10-K from 2005
- Renaissance Learning. (2006). Daily and periodic progress-Mason Hertzog assessment systems. Wisconsin Rapids: Author.
- Accelerated Reader Enterprise information on PDF.
- Reading software webpage lacks "Read Now" alone.
- Fluent Reader overview page
- Fluent Reader reading passages page
- Renaissance Place system requirements (PDF).
- Accelerated Math Enterprise information on PDF.
- 2Know! Classroom Response System webpage
- Accelerated Vocabulary page, as part of Accelerated Reader Enterprise Edition.
- AccelTest webpage
- Image of the CRS
- CSRQ Webpage, p. 208.
- Best Reading Software--the 2006 Reader's Choice Awards from eSchool News.
- Best Math Software--2006 Reader's Choice Awards from eSchool News.
^ http://www.flickeringmind.net, "THE FLICKERING MIND: Saving Education From the False Promise of Technology," by Todd Oppenheimer (Random House, 2003, 2004), Chapter 9, pp. 240-304