By Anastasia Bergeron
[This article originally appeared in ROI-NJ here and is reposted with permission.]
Saki Dodelson doesn’t see education as a business. She sees it as a health care provider.
“What many don’t realize in education is that we’re taking care of hearts,” she said. “Schools aren’t a business. The teachers are like heart surgeons, and, every day, they’re saving lives.”
This is why Dodelson is launching Beable, the Life-Ready Literacy Company, later this month in Lakewood.
Dodelson describes Beable as an online learning platform she feels will help students learn in the classroom while preparing them for life outside of it. More importantly, Dodelson said Beable is ideal for students to work in the classroom and remotely, fitting the hybrid teaching instruction school districts have been forced to adopt.
It’s the latest ed-tech platform from Dodelson, who founded Achieve 3000 — a digital platform that has helped thousands of kids improve their reading skills — two decades ago. Dodelson said Beable will take online education to another level.
With Beable, students first take a computer-adaptive assessment that was developed by partner MetaMetrics. Then, learning material is personalized to help students either catch up, or reach higher to required standards assessed by national school tests. A partnership with examPAL allows students to prepare for the SAT/ACT as early as sixth grade. And a partnership with World of Work exposes students to numerous career goals based on their passions and strengths.
Even more, Dodelson created it to be a true supplement to education.
“The idea was, let’s be part of the classroom,” she said. “Let students feel equal. Let them feel tall. Let them know, I am learning the same things as my gifted and talented friends.”
Dodelson explained that students pulled out of class to “catch up” miss curriculum being learned while they’re gone. She said her multidimensional technology lets students remain in the classroom, combining catching up with working toward annual assessment standards.
Beable was originally intended to launch in time for the school year next fall. However, due to concerns that many students fell behind during online learning this spring, Dodelson said the company is releasing a Summer FastStart program for middle and high school in response to districts’ needs to diagnose and close literacy gaps that have widened during the COVID-19 crisis.
So far, the company has signed agreements to work with two school districts in the country — including East Orange — and company officials said they are closing to reaching agreements with a dozen others, including at least four more in New Jersey.
The cost of the platform is based on the number of students in a district, as each student’s participation per year costs $30. And, although Beable’s focus is schools and extending teachers’ abilities to personalize education further, Dodelson said the company also is planning on offering its platform to individuals.
Dodelson has approximately 50 people working on the project to get it ready in time.
“Everybody feels this is bigger than us and everybody stretches to make it happen,” she said.
The program is available in both English and Spanish, but company officials said it contains a translation feature that will allow it to be used in dozens of other languages.
Dodelson said she has been passionate about the power of education for the past 20 years. Others agree. She was recognized as one of the Top 100 influencers in education in 2018 and 2019 and has been honored by Inc. Magazine and Ernst & Young as one of the nation’s top entrepreneurs.
Dodelson believes all children should be given the resources “to get excited about who they are and where they’re going.”
“We like to say we’re born equal, but it’s far from the truth,” she said. “Teachers help kids realize the way to freedom and opportunity is through education. And since I know the technology well, I love that I can be part of extending these tools to students at any level.”