“With the right support and intervention…people with learning disabilities can succeed in school and go on to be successful later in life.” Wikipedia
Last week PCI acquired SpellRead, Momentum Math, Text Connections, Summer Ventures, and an unreleased Algebra program from Kaplan. I don’t normally use this blog to talk about what we are doing specifically at PCI, but given that this is an unorthodox move in these economic times I thought I’d lay out the case for the acquisition.
These intervention programs target reading or math and they fit snugly into our line of products for academically challenged students. They are age appropriate for middle and high school students who are significantly behind grade-level expectations and need intensive, small-group instruction.
They also have some outstanding research results – in fact SpellRead was the small group intervention program rated the highest by the What Works Clearinghouse.
Really? In this economy?
It may not seem like the optimal time to be making a move like this with the economy and education budgets looking like they will stagnate or decline for the next several years.
But as we look ahead we see an ongoing emphasis on serving all students and in particular reaching those students that traditional approaches have failed. A quick review of the policy directives coming out of the Obama Department of Education makes clear that accountability is not going to be sacrificed to short term economic pressures. That in turn means schools will continue to invest in reaching students who are struggling.
Evidence also shows that companies that invest wisely during downturns emerge stronger than competitors who pull back. We have increased our catalog distribution, hired sales reps, and boosted our on-line presence in the last 18 months. These new products fit nicely into our channel mix and should help fuel our market beating growth record of the past couple of years.
The Strategic Context
The supplemental publishing world has been in transition for several years. The traditional market for small scale ad-ons to basal materials is still there, but alongside it a world of comprehensive targeted intervention curricula has sprung up. In fact, most of the growth has come from the comprehensive side – examples include Read 180 and Wilson in reading and Carnegie Learning and TouchMath in mathematics.
The reason for this is rooted in student outcomes. Educators have figured out that instructional materials designed specifically for the job at hand are much more effective in reaching these students where they are. It is possible use adaptations and modifications of the basal textbook materials – but it isn’t optimal.
All of these products fit into this new category.
A More Complete Product Line
PCI has traditionally served both the Learning Disabilities (LD) market and the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) market. For the past 3-4 years our internal product development focus has been on filling a huge gap for IDD focused academic programs. The PCI Reading Program and Environmental Print are behind our rapid expansion in 2009 and 2010.
The acquisition refreshes our line on the LD side with 5 top notch programs. Our Development Team’s first reaction on seeing the materials was “this is exactly what we would have written.” We were impressed by the simplicity of design and the thoughtful structure provided for instruction in the materials.
If you are interested in seeing where we go with them be sure to tune into our web site for further developments. We have some pretty cool ideas about how to take rock solid programs and wrap them with innovations that build on 19 years of expertise in serving these students.
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