Continued Investments, Acquisitions and Plans for Back-to-School: Q2 2021 in Review

By Guest Contributor Lisa Wolfe

While there wasn’t quite as much activity as in the first quarter of 2021, the education space remained a hot bed of acquisition and investment activity in the second quarter with some significant initial public offerings (IPO) and leadership appointments. Here are highlights:

  • McGraw Hill acquired Kidaptive, Inc., an adaptive learning platform company with expertise in learning science, early learning and data analytics.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt appointed Jean-Claude Brizard, president and CEO of Digital Promise, to its board of directors. Brizard was previously a senior advisor and deputy director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CEO at Chicago Public Schools.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sold it’s consumer publishing arm, HMH Books & Media, to Harper Collins, a division of NewsCorp, for $349 million.
  • President Joe Biden unveiled an infrastructure proposal that includes $100 billion to build and repair schools. The proposal is pending modifications and approval by Congress.
  • In late March, online learning platform Coursera issued its IPO.
  • SchoolHouse, a New York-based edtech startup, spreading the growth of microschools, raised $8.1 million in funding to take its model nationwide.
  • In April, PowerSchool filed for an IPO. Since 2016, PowerSchool has made 11 acquisitions.
  • Frank Catalano is the new Chief Marketing Officer at ParentSquare Inc., provider of a unified school-to-home engagement platform for K-12. Catalano previously held marketing leadership positions at Pearson, Professional Examination Service and the education business of West Corporation (now Intrado).
  • Scholastic appointed Raghushri Sankaran as senior vice president and Chief Information Officer and Kevin Conklin as senior vice president of corporate operations. Sankaran has led digital, security and infrastructure transformation efforts at the company for six years. Conklin was previously vice president, operations, Americas for Pandora Jewelry.
  • Margery Mayer joined the board of directors of MetaMetrics, developer of the Lexile and Quantile Frameworks. Mayer served most recently as executive vice president at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Oslo-based edtech company Kahoot! acquired single sign-on digital learning platform Clever Inc.
  • McGraw Hill acquired Triad Interactive, which makes the online training and assessment tool SIMnet.
  • Social and emotional learning assessment company Aperture Education bought student management software company Ascend.
  • As plans for the return to brick-and-mortar school for the 2021-22 school year accelerate, large districts such as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles Unified School District have announced they will fully reopen in the fall. New York City says it will not offer remote learning for the new school year.
  • BEGiN, developer of the early learning program, HOMER, purchased codeSpark, a learn-to-code app for children.
  • The National Assessment Governing Board released the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for science. Fourth grade scores declined by three points compared to 2015 results. Average scores for 8th and 12th grade showed no change.
  • Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson resigned in May. The City hopes to have a new CEO appointed by late July.
  • Richard (Dick) Robinson, longtime CEO of Scholastic, has passed away. The son of the company’s founder, Robinson was 84.  Among the well-known children’s titles that Scholastic added to its portfolio under Robinson’s leadership were  the “Hunger Games,” “The Magic School Bus” and “Goosebumps,” series and, of course, “Harry Potter.”
  • Platinum Equity will acquire textbook publishing and educational technology company McGraw Hill from Apollo Global Management for approximately $4.5 billion. Apollo acquired McGraw Hill in 2013.

While activity may quiet down a bit over the summer months, the first six months of 2021 foreshadow continued high level of activity in the education market as schools and teachers return to brick and mortar. We will continue to track the industry’s events and this year’s momentous back-to-school season and update you for Q3!

Lisa Wolfe is the president of L. Wolfe Communications

Founded in April 2000, L. Wolfe Communications offers its clients a network of senior, experienced public relations executives with a variety of complementary experience and expertise in public relations and communications for the education and library markets.