Scaling A2i: A Conversation with Jay Connor and Sarah Siegal (Part 1)

January 22, 2024 | By Morgan Solender

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Jay Connor, CEO of Learning Ovations, and Sarah Siegal, director of research and practice at Scholastic and former vice president of research at Learning Ovations, recently sat down for a conversation with Rebecca Griffiths, principal researcher at SRI Education and principal investigator for the LEARN Network, to discuss their journey in scaling A2i. This conversation is part of the LEARN Network’s new Stories of Scaling series where members of the LEARN Network team talk to developers, researchers, and industry leaders to provide real life examples of evidence-based educational products that are achieving scale.

A2i is a tool that uses technology and professional development to improve literacy outcomes for students in kindergarten to grade 3. It helps teachers tailor literacy instruction to individual students by providing teachers with real-time data on learning needs, individualized literacy learning plans for their students, and professional development. The Learning Ovations team developed A2i and sold it to Scholastic in 2022. They continue to work closely with Scholastic to ensure their product maintains its efficiency and integrity.

In part 1 of a three-part blog series highlighting key takeaways from this conversation, Connor and Siegal discuss how they considered and responded to market needs in designing A2i.

Product integration makes teachers’ lives easier. Aligning the A2i system with reading programs that teachers already use allows for more flexibility and greater teacher uptake. By tagging each activity in a core curriculum with a grade equivalency level, A2i recommends existing curricular lessons in students’ individualized literacy learning plans.

Successful products involve many pivots. Based on teacher feedback, the Learning Ovations team made a series of changes throughout the development of A2i, from digitizing the assessment system to providing professional development. Connor and Siegal explain how being responsive to user feedback positioned A2i well for the Scholastic acquisition.

Understanding the customer and market broadens product reach. Realizing that school districts are more likely than individual teachers to make purchasing decisions, the Learning Ovations team adapted their internal research to make data and reports more useful for districts. By making A2i compatible with many learning management systems, the team was able to engage more buyers.

Learn about considerations for transitioning A2i in the second blog post of the series. Watch the full conversation here!

Tags: Application Education technology Innovation Literacy Research & Developers Transition