LightSail Education launches adaptive literacy program in K-12 schools

Lauren Williams's picture
Tuesday, November 26, 2013

LightSail Education, a creator of K-12 digital literacy solutions, today announced the launch of its LightSail adaptive reading program following a 4-month pilot in 12 New York City public and charter schools. Additionally, the company raised $3.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Ricardo A. Sagrera of Viceroy Ventures with participation from Joel Greenblatt of Gotham Capital; Chuck Strauch, former Chairman & CEO, PairGain Technologies; Dan Nir of Sargent Capital; Lisa Lippman of Brown Harris Stevens; Paul Appelbaum, Co-Founder of Seamless.com; and education technology angel investor, Zac Zeitlin, among others.

LightSail provides students with personalized tablet-based libraries drawing from more than 18,000 e-books from top publishers. LightSail embeds assessments and analytics in students’ texts, monitoring their Lexile measures, Common Core progress and reading habits. Teachers receive real-time data along with tools designed to support best literacy instruction practices in classrooms.

“The education crisis is, at its core, a literacy crisis, because students who aren’t reading at grade level struggle to reach their full potential in every subject,” said Gideon Stein, LightSail Education Co-Founder and CEO. “LightSail integrates reading and writing activities that have been proven to accelerate student literacy into an easy-to-use tablet solution. Our goal is to give every teacher the tools to be an effective literacy instructor and rise to the high standards of the Common Core.”

“In my work as a literacy specialist I have seen great books, meaningful teacher feedback and data-directed teaching create passionate, successful readers,” said LightSail Education Chief Academic Officer Jessica Reid Sliwerski. “We are thrilled that LightSail makes it easy for any school to implement all three.”

Teachers and principals throughout New York City have been using LightSail for the past several months. Paul Thompson, Principal of The Urban Assembly School for Music and Art commented, "I've been impressed by how much our students are reading and writing with LightSail as well as our teachers' increased confidence in delivering Common Core-aligned literacy instruction. It's a tool that has had an enormous impact on literacy in my school and could greatly support literacy acquisition nationwide."

Stein further commented, ”We are honored to have such a strong portfolio of investors who share our passion for educational excellence and addressing one of our nation’s greatest learning challenges – low literacy rates. Our initial backing, and support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, allowed LightSail Education to develop a world-class platform and go to market with dozens of schools to refine the product and prove its efficacy both in and out of the classroom. The newly acquired funds will be used to expand our content partnerships, drive future product development, and fuel the use of LightSail in schools nationwide.”

Earlier this year, LightSail took top honors in the Gates Literacy Courseware Challenge and was named top new education technology company at the prestigious SXSW V2V competition. LightSail is also a finalist in the highly competitive Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) Innovation Incubator Program, where the product will be a contender for the Most Innovative, Most Likely to Succeed and Educator’s Choice awards next month.

About LightSail Education:

LightSail Education was founded in 2012 by a group of entrepreneurs, educators and software engineers to address critical educational challenges with elegant, efficient, and – above all – effective digital solutions. To learn more about LightSail, schedule a demo or buy LightSail for your students, go to www.lightsailed.com.