Renaissance Learning

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Renaissance Learning
Industry Educational software
Founded 1985
Headquarters Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
Area served
Key people
Judith and Terrance Paul (founders)
Products STAR, Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Math, Subtext
Number of employees
1,030 (As of 8/1/2016)
Parent Hellman & Friedman
Subsidiaries AlphaSmart; Humanities Software, Inc.; Renaissance Learning UK Ltd.; Renaissance Corporate Services

Renaissance Learning Inc. (RLI) is an educational assessment and learning analytics company that makes cloud-based educational software for use in Kindergarten through 12th grade.[1][2] In 2011, the company was purchased by Permira.[3] Renaissance Learning acquired Skynet, an instructional e-reading platform in 2013.[4] Google Capital made a $40 million investment in the company at a $1 billion valuation in 2014.[5] In March 2014 it was reported that private equity firm Hellman & Friedman was acquiring Renaissance Learning for $1.1 billion in cash.[6]


Corporate logo of Renaissance Learning, Inc., used until 2005.

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.[7] At one time, the couple owned about 75% of RLI.[8] In August 2011 the company was bought by the British company Permira. As of October 16, 2011, Renaissance Learning was no longer traded as a public company.

Software platforms[edit]

Desktop software[edit]

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[edit]

Renaissance Place, a 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.

Reading software[edit]

Accelerated Reader[edit]

Reading software logo

Accelerated Reader, the company's flagship software created in 1985 and defined as "reading management software," is an assessment that determines whether a student has read a book and is computer-scored. The software provides additional information to teachers about reading rates, amount of reading, and other factors related to reading. The company also offers a version with a library of quizzes.[9]

STAR Reading[edit]

STAR Reading and STAR Early Literacy logo

STAR Reading is a computer-adaptive reading test and database that assesses students' reading levels and provides norm-referenced reading scores for students in grades 1 through 12.[10]

STAR Early Literacy[edit]

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.[10]

English in a Flash[edit]

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.[10]

Read Now Power Up![edit]

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.[11] It contains lessons, activities, and reading materials and provides teachers with information to address individual needs.[10]

Fluent Reader[edit]

Fluent Reader allows students to practice reading texts out loud, into the computer, to assess their reading and pronunciation capabilities.[12] 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.[13] Fluent Reader uses the Renaissance Place framework and other software for its recording capabilities.[14]

Math software[edit]

Accelerated Math[edit]

Accelerated Math, a math management program for grades 1 through calculus 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.[10] Accelerated Math Enterprise offers the entire math library, from first grade math to calculus.[15]

STAR Math[edit]

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.[10]

MathFacts in a Flash[edit]

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 feedback on areas of difficulty. It includes timed tests and reports of individual progress.[10]

Other software[edit]

  • 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![16]
  • Accelerated Vocabulary, now part of Accelerated Reader Enterprise Edition.[17]
  • AccelTest, software for creating quizzes and tests[18]


With the acquisition of AlphaSmart in 2005, Renaissance Learning began providing educational hardware. The company's "2Know! Classroom Response System" was intended to aid classroom participation and assessment. Each student used a wireless handheld device with a small LCD screen, a number of buttons and a number pad.[19] Using wireless technology, teachers could post questions and receive student responses. The system could use built-in assessments or teacher-made assessments. The hardware also came with software to help receive and score information from the 2Know!.[16] The AlphaSmart machines were discontinued by Renaissance Learning in late September 2013, although the company still offers support and software to existing users as of March 2014.[20]

Evaluation of Renaissance Learning products[edit]

The Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center ranked Renaissance Learning's comprehensive school reform model as third of 22 models.[21] "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,"[22] favorably[weasel words] reviewed the research on Renaissance Learning's products.[23]

In 2006, an online survey by eSchool News concluded 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[24] and Accelerated Math was among some of the best math software.[25]


  1. ^ Why a 30-Year-Old Education Company Just Landed a $1 Billion Valuation Inc. magazine profile of Renaissance Learning, Inc.
  2. ^ Google Capital Invests $40M In Learning Analytics Firm Renaissance Learning At $1B Valuation TechCrunch feature on Renaissance Learning, Inc.
  3. ^ Education Software Company Renaissance Learning Acquired By PE Firm For $440 Million TechCrunch article on acquisition of Renaissance Learning, Inc.
  4. ^ Renaissance Learning Acquires E-Reading Platform, Subtext EdSurge article on Subtext acquisition
  5. ^ Renaissance Learning Draws $40 Million Investment From Google Capital The New York Times
  6. ^
  7. ^ Consolidated Balance Sheet Form 10-Q, filed 8/13/2001.
  8. ^ Yahoo! Finance profile of Renaissance Learning, Inc.
  9. ^ Accelerated Reader Enterprise information on PDF.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Renaissance Learning. (2006). Daily and periodic progress-Mason Hertzog assessment systems. Wisconsin Rapids: Author.
  11. ^ Reading software webpage lacks "Read Now" alone.
  12. ^ Fluent Reader overview page
  13. ^ Fluent Reader reading passages page
  14. ^ Renaissance Place system requirements (PDF).
  15. ^ Accelerated Math Enterprise information on PDF.
  16. ^ a b 2Know! Classroom Response System webpage
  17. ^ Accelerated Vocabulary page, as part of Accelerated Reader Enterprise Edition.
  18. ^ AccelTest webpage
  19. ^ Image of the CRS
  20. ^ NEO Direct
  21. ^ CSRQ Webpage, p. 208.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Research Review
  24. ^ Best Reading Software--the 2006 Reader's Choice Awards from eSchool News. Archived October 30, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  25. ^ Best Math Software--2006 Reader's Choice Awards from eSchool News.

External links[edit]