Unlock Each Student’s Learning Potential

Kenna McHugh, Learning Counsel Writer

Stuart Udell recently became the CEO of Achieve3000, arriving with over 25-year years of experience in educational technology. He most recently served as CEO of K12 Inc., the nation’s largest operator of virtual schools. Previously, he served in several other well-known educational technology companies while spending 16 years on the board of the National Dropout Prevention Center, where he received recognition for his contribution as Chairman. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Successful Practices Network, the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning, USATestPrep, and Ventris Learning. The I Have a Dream Foundation honored him with the Education Warrior Award in 2011.

“Even though I've been around 25 years and there are a bunch of folks like me, we've been doing this a while, it's a pretty exciting time,” explains Udell. “There's a real explosion of new young talent coming into the space, lots of great new companies. You can always tell the new folks on the block because their neck sizes are a lot smaller than ours,” jokes Udell. “But it's exciting. We've got a nice combination of folks who've been trying to impact classroom management for a long time, combined with, kind of, the new crew coming in with the new tools to affect that change through the deployment of technology.”

“In my mind, it’s critical that we continue listening to our customers and to educators to understand the challenges they face so that we can offer solutions that truly meet their needs. We will grow and adapt to address the industry’s needs and prepare for whatever the future may hold. Teachers, students and families should know that our goal is to offer a continuous support system to contribute to the progress of the education system as a whole and reach the point where every student has an equitable academic career.”

Udell’s primary focus as CEO is to contribute to Achieve3000’s promise of equity in every classroom. “Right now, we are growing our product offerings to extend our impact in the classroom. Our recent acquisition of Actively Learn is a great example of this. Founded in 2012, Actively Learn’s platform supports teachers with a rich and diverse catalog of texts and videos, standards-aligned instruction, and the ability to build customized classes. We can offer more to customers by bringing both companies under one roof, such as fiction and multimedia content, which has not traditionally been a part of Achieve3000’s offering.”

Working at Achieve3000, Udell guides the company’s mission to work with schools and educators to unlock every student’s potential through accelerated literacy growth and learning. “Our company is actively reaching students at their precise Lexile reading levels to deliver differentiated instruction that drives significant literacy gains so more students can graduate high school ready for the challenges ahead.”

Achieve3000 empowers teachers with the necessary resources to truly differentiate instruction for students in Pre-K through adult learners. Elementary and secondary science, social studies, and English language arts classrooms utilize the program. “Our content is available in 12 different reading levels in English and 8 in Spanish, ensuring that every student receives content that is precisely differentiated for their exact reading levels and language needs,” explains Udell. “We are focused on building literacy skills for all students because reading and writing are at the foundation of learning. We have products developed specifically for the needs of English language learners, special education departments, and workforce readiness initiatives.”

A primary principle of Achieve3000’s approach to instruction is a belief in the shared responsibility of teaching literacy because the company understands schools cannot rely solely on our English Language Arts teachers to get this done. “We want to make sure we are supporting teachers across the curriculum. We understand that teachers need tools that allow them to save time while reaching the needs of their students as effectively as they can,” explains Udell. 

According to Udell, some of the most successful customers use the platform to create a culture of literacy throughout their school and community. “We support this by holding family academies to engage parents in using our Home Edition. It doesn’t only let parents see what their children are reading or how they are progressing but enables them to learn along with their students when necessary—this is especially important for children whose parents speak a first language other than English.”

One of Udell’s favorite success stories is from Chicago Public Schools after implementing Achieve3000 during the 2017-18 school year. Richard Edwards Elementary School serves 1,546 students with more than 90 percent of the students coming from low-income backgrounds.  Forty-nine percent of their students are English language learners.  Only a small number of students met proficiency standards for College and Career Readiness. By the end of the year, 225 students met the standards and the school achieved an average Lexile gain of 185L.  “The progress that Richard Edwards Elementary saw as a whole is the ideal result of implementing Achieve3000—providing a valuable learning opportunity to students that yields actual results,” adds Udell.

Udell understands not every school is going to deliver results like Richards Edwards Elementary school. The best results from Achieve3000 is students completing two lessons a week, but that is not always possible for schools new to the program. “Learning something new is always a challenge, even for teachers. Some districts are further along with integrating technology into their classrooms, issuing a device for every student. Others are still finding their way, or don’t feel that a fully blended learning approach is right for them. We get it, and we actively work with our customers to help find the best onboarding route for them.”

He understands Ed tech is crucial to education because it provides an economy of scale that gives every student access to the personalized instruction that used to only be available from a tutor. “Beyond access to curated instructional supports and the development of user-friendly data insights, ed tech is continuously advancing in the hopes that it will better our education system as a whole. We live in a world where technology and digital literacy is key, so by incorporating these tools into the classroom, we’re preparing students for the future,” concludes Udell.