Panorama Education, a K-12 education analytics company, has raised $12 million to help expand the variety and scope of its services.
The company’s goal is to collect information on students, parents, and teachers so that school districts can make better decisions, particularly when it comes to allocating funding. The company uses data that schools are required to track by law, like test scores, grades, and attendance records, in addition to surveys usually administered between one and four times a year. Its founders believe that test scores alone cannot encapsulate someone’s education, nor teach administrators and teachers how to improve it, so they aim to collect meaningful data so that school districts have the most accurate information to help them meet their goals.
When a district signs up for the service, they can select five areas they want to know more about, writes Nicole Gorman of Education World, like how safe students feel at school, how much they trust their teachers, or how much potential they think they have. The surveys are offered in ten languages.
Panorama was founded in 2013 by Yale undergraduates Aaron Feuer and Xan Tanner. 6,500 schools in 220 districts and 40 states are working with the company, which has polled more than three million students.
Feuer explained that data science is a complex element of education reform:
There’s all this talk about data and education, but ‘data’ has really been a buzzword and not very meaningful because we’re still looking at test scores, not at how engaged students are. There’s a disconnect between the things we care about and the things that we’re actually measuring and judging schools by.
Right now schools track dropout rates, for instance, but it’s not helpful to find out after the student has dropped out. Schools want to know if students and teachers have close relationships, because that prevents many students from dropping out.
Feuer also notes that it’s important for districts to break down data by criteria like gender and socioeconomic status to make sure they aren’t underserving a particular group, reports Tony Wan of EdSurge.
Panorama also offers open-source survey questions on their website with suggestions as to how districts may want to tweak the questions.
The Series A round was led by Spark Capital and Owl Ventures, which specializes in ed tech startups, writes Christine Magee of Tech Crunch. Its seed investors include Y Combinator, Google Ventures, and Startup:Education, a fund belonging to Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.
The company currently employs 36 and plans to hire 20 more before the end of the year in the fields of engineering, products, design, sales, marketing, and research, writes Gregory T. Huang of Xconomy.