NWEA (the MAP test company) has been purchased by HMH, the education/learning/techno company. That's the headline. Let's take the occasion to consider one of the great corporate octopi of education, and what users of NWEA can expect in the future.
NWEA is best known as the company that sells the MAP test, a computer-delivered multiple choice test in the Common Core vein that many schools use for many purposes, some of them kind of ridiculous. Students don't much care about them, though NWEA has faced that head on by "developing" an algorithm that pretends to read students' minds based on how long they take to answer. Like many districts, my former district used MAP to pre-test students and predict how they were going to do on the states Big Standardized Test. I crunched the numbers once--MAP was a very lousy predictor of that.
HMH is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Once upon a time they were a bunch of textbook publishers, before glomming together into "a learning technology company committed to delivering connected solutions that engage learners, empower educators and improve student outcomes" as well as "a leading provider of K–12 core curriculum, supplemental and intervention solutions, and professional learning services." They include a whole world of curriculum materials (for good measure, they also own the ed publisher Heinemann.)
Veritas is a private equity company that's two whole decades old. Says their website, "We invest in companies that provide critical products and services, primarily technology or technology-enabled solutions, to government and commercial customers worldwide." But perhaps the scarier part, if you're a small tentacle they've decided to partner with, is this:
But HMH is not the center of this edu-octopus, because HMH is owned by Veritas Capital. We've met Veritas before, as they also own the giant mass that falls under the umbrella of the Cambium Learning Group.
We seek to create value by strategically transforming the companies we acquire. Our sector focus and deep expertise are our competitive discriminators and allow us to identify and execute on multiple strategic levers that drive the performance of our investments.
They "employ an active approach to ownership and value creation," which has a pretty ominous Bond villainy sound to it.
By combining NWEA’s assessments with HMH’s curriculum, HMH is expected to deliver a holistic solution for educators that helps them understand how students are growing academically and what areas need the most focus to maximize that growth. Most importantly, this solution will turn insights from assessments into content recommendations that help teachers address student-specific skill gaps and advance student learning.