Renaissance Learning

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Industry Educational software
Founded 1986; 32 years ago (1986)
Founders Judith and Terrance Paul
Headquarters Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, U.S.
Area served
Products Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Reader 360, English in a Flash, Accelerated Math, MathFacts in a Flash, Star 360
Number of employees
1,200 (as of June 1, 2017)
Parent Hellman & Friedman
Subsidiaries AlphaSmart; Humanities Software, Inc.; Renaissance Learning UK Ltd.; Renaissance Corporate Services

Renaissance Learning, Inc. (Renaissance) is a software and learning analytics company that makes cloud-based, K–12 educational software. Renaissance employs about 1200 employees in nine U.S. cities and subsidiaries in Canada, the United Kingdom, Korea, and Australia. Renaissance’s products are used in U.S. schools and more than 60 countries around the world.[citation needed]


Renaissance's corporate logo used until 2005.

Accelerated Reader, the company's flagship product, was created in 1985 by Judith and Terrance Paul, who founded the company in 1986 under the name "Advantage Learning Systems". Terrance, a lawyer and businessman, and Judith, a homemaker with a degree in elementary education, though she never taught school, began their software business in 1986 from the basement of their home in Port Edwards, Wisconsin.[1] The company's name changed to "Renaissance Learning, Inc." in 2001. In August 2011, the company was sold to Permira, a European private equity firm, for a reported $455 million.[2] In early 2014, CapitalG (formerly Google Capital) made a $40 million investment in the company at a $1 billion valuation.[3] Later in 2014, Renaissance was sold to Hellman & Friedman for $1.1 billion.[4][5] In 2016, Renaissance rebranded and dropped “Learning” from their name.



Renaissance Accelerated Reader[edit]

Accelerated Reader, the company's flagship software, is "reading management software". It determines whether a student has read a book through comprehension quizzes and is computer-scored. Educators collaborate with students to set personalized reading practice goals based on their reading level. Students select books within their reading range, read independently, and then take short, computerized comprehension quizzes. After each quiz, educators and students are able to see progress toward reading goals.

Renaissance Accelerated Reader 360[edit]

In 2013, Renaissance acquired Subtext, a K12 digital reading service. Soon after, Renaissance introduced Accelerated Reader 360, a premium version of Accelerated Reader that adds nonfiction articles with embedded skills practice.

Renaissance English in a Flash[edit]

English in a Flash is a language acquisition tool for grades K–12 for use with English language learners. It aims to help students build vocabulary and grammar.


Renaissance Accelerated Math[edit]

Renaissance released Accelerated Math in 1998. A math management program, it generates personalized math assignments at each student's level and scores the assignments. It also provides reports and record-keeping functions to monitor student progress and address individual student needs.

Renaissance MathFacts in a Flash[edit]

MathFacts in a Flash is software intended to enhance computational fluency (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.


Renaissance Star 360[edit]

Star 360 is a comprehensive K–12 assessment package, allowing educators to screen and group students for targeted instruction, measure student growth, predict performance on Smarter Balanced exams, and monitor achievement on Common Core State Standards. Star 360 includes Star Reading, Star Math, Star Early Literacy, and Star Custom.

Renaissance Star Reading[edit]

Released in 1996, 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 1–12.

Renaissance Star Math[edit]

Star Math is a computer-adaptive math test and database, providing norm-referenced math scores for students in grades 1–12. It was released in 1998.

Renaissance Star Early Literacy[edit]

Released in 2000, Star Early Literacy is a computer-adaptive diagnostic assessment of literacy skills of students in grades Pre-K–3. It assesses phonemic awareness, phonics, and other readiness and literacy skills, and identifies strengths and weaknesses in these skills.

Renaissance Star Spanish[edit]

Tailored for native Spanish speakers, Star Spanish assessments for reading, math, and early literacy provide interim data that show what Spanish-speaking students know in their native language.

Renaissance Star Custom[edit]

Renaissance Star Custom is a formative assessment that allows educators to administer assessments that target specific standards and skills.

Professional Development[edit]


Renaissance offers a training for all products, and has trained more than 1 million educators. Renaissance-U works with educators to improve their implementation of their products and help devel skills that give teachers and admins the ability to use their data in more impactful ways.[citation needed]


Renaissance Flow 360[edit]

Announced June 2017[6] Renaissance Flow 360 is a data interoperability platform which uses a common API adopted by partners to share data, providing more integrated assessment, planning, instruction, and practice, allowing educators to drive and monitor growth for every student in their district. Fundamental to Renaissance Flow 360 is the Renaissance Growth Alliance™, a collaboration with instructional providers.[7]

Renaissance Growth Alliance™[edit]

Announced in 2016, the Renaissance Growth Alliance[8] is a group of education partners which are working together to create better interoperability between their respective platforms using a common Application Programming Interface, API.[9][better source needed]

Renaissance Place[edit]

In 2004, Renaissance released Renaissance Place. An integrated web platform that combines student performance information (from school, classroom, grade, and subject) into a single management system. As of June 2017 Renaissance Place is no longer in use- its functions have been integrated within other software components.

Renaissance Home Connect[edit]

Renaissance Home Connect enables parents to view their children’s reading and math practice and progress towards goals.


With the acquisition of AlphaSmart in 2005, Renaissance began providing educational hardware. The company's "2Know! Classroom Response System" allows teachers to use wireless technology to post questions and receive student responses. The system can use built-in assessments or educator-made assessments. The AlphaSmart machines were discontinued by Renaissance in late September 2013.


Accelerated Reader critics say it limits a student’s recreational reading to a list of books that fall in their book level, in order to accrue "points",[10] and the system trivializes books and undermines reading by reducing it to a competitive game.[1] Susan Straight in the New York Times says, "the passion and serendipity of choosing a book at the library based on the subject or the cover of the first page is nearly gone, as well as the excitement of reading a book simply for pleasure."[11]

Gary S. Stager, Ph.D., a collaborator in the MIT Media Lab's Future of Learning Group and a member of the One Laptop Per Child Foundation's Learning Team, whose doctoral research involved the creation of a high-tech alternative learning environment for incarcerated at-risk teens, says Accelerated Reader gets motivation wrong[12][13]

American Library Association's journal, School Library Media Research, analyzed Accelerated Reading.[14]

The United States Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences in What Works Clearinghouse,[15] October 2008,[16] and August 2010[17] found Accelerated Reader[18] to have no discernible effects on reading fluency or comprehension for adolescent learners.[19][20]

Renaissance products have been tested in studies, some conducted by third-party evaluators.[21] Some of these studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals.[22]

Each November, Renaissance releases its annual What Kids Are Reading report. Using the data from Accelerated Reader and Accelerated Reader 360, What Kids Are Reading highlights the books and nonfiction articles K–12 students read cover to cover each year.


  1. ^ a b Vitello, Paul (2014-09-16). "Terrance Paul, Developer of Teaching Software, Dies at 67". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  2. ^ Solomon, Steven Davidoff. "A Strange Lesson From Renaissance Learning". DealBook. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  3. ^ Lardinois, Frederic. "Google Capital Invests $40M In Learning Analytics Firm Renaissance Learning At $1B Valuation". Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  4. ^ "Why a 30-Year-Old Education Company Just Landed a $1 Billion Valuation". 2017-02-19. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  5. ^ Merced, Michael J. de la. "Renaissance Learning Is Sold to Hellman & Friedman for $1.1 Billion". Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  6. ^
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  8. ^
  9. ^ Application programming interface
  10. ^ Silva, Teresa (6 March 2012). "Accelerated Reader: Instigator of Readicide". Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  11. ^ "Reading by the Numbers". The New York Times. 30 August 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  12. ^ Stager, Gary. "The Huffington Post Gets Hoodwinked Again". Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  13. ^ Stager, Gary (10 April 2012). "Mission Accomplished!". Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  14. ^ Stefl-Mabry, Joette Accelerated Reading: Silent Sustained Reading Camouflaged in a Computer Program ?
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  19. ^ Mark Pennington. "The 18 Reasons Not to Use Accelerated Reader". Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  20. ^ Smith, A. F., & Westberg, K. L. (2011). Student attitudes toward accelerated reader: “Thanks for asking!” Current Issues in Education, 14(2).
  21. ^ Hansen, Laurie E.; Collins, Penny; Warschauer, Mark (November 2009). "Reading Management Programs: A Review of the Research" (PDF). Journal of Literacy and Technology. 10 (3). ISSN 1535-0975. 
  22. ^ "Research - Renaissance". Retrieved 2016-12-09. 

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