Hi. we're Kelvin. Our story is a bit unconventional, but if you’re curious and have a couple minutes, we’d love to share it with you…
We designed, built, and grew Illuminate Education’s Data & Assessment system from a startup to one of the nation’s biggest providers of K-12 assessment tools—now used by over 17M students. But after a great run and a combined thirty-something years, it was time to hang up our hats and apply our technology smarts to a new worthwhile problem.
We decided to get the team back together, and had a lot of conversations about what we should build. We wanted to make a difference, but how? That's when we started to look to our own experiences as students.
Each of us struggled in school for different reasons despite having certain advantages. Baxter—or Julian—was dealing with stuff at home along with the fallout from childhood trauma; Zach moved around a lot and never felt settled or connected in school; and Matt ended up hiding out in his teachers’ classrooms during breaks because he was bullied.
We're not alone. Through our research we discovered too many young people struggle with the same things we did—or worse, and it’s these “headwinds”—like bullying, family instability, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), abuse, poverty, racism—that often makes it tough for students to push ahead and reach their potential. Our desire was to help educators surface and respond thoughtfully to these invisible headwinds. So, we built Kelvin. (Named after the unit of measurement.)
These “intangibles” like providing feedback, a positive learning environment, strong teacher-student relationships, and social-and-emotional learning have been shown to have a profound and measurable impact on “tangible” outcomes like chronic absenteeism, achievement, and even school safety. In some cases, these things can advance a student’s learning by almost two to three years according to Hattie’s meta-analysis about what works best for learning.
As we set our sights on our new mission, we talked to our educator friends. One theme kept popping up: “it takes just one person to turn things around for a student.” So, this is our hope: that you and other courageous adults at your school can use Kelvin to gather feedback about what your students need and ultimately help them become healthier, happier, more-successful human beings.
With hope and gratitude,
Baxter-Julian, Zach, and Matt
Former Product at Illuminate Education (2012-2018). Former Product at Simple Finance and GoGuardian
Founding team at Illuminate Education (2009-2017). Former Development at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (DataDirector)