Learning Schools

Building an Evidence Base for EdTech

At the core of the Jacobs Foundation lies the fundamental belief that evidence should drive education policy and practice. This is particularly true for the rapidly growing EdTech sector to ensure technological innovation is deployed to improve learning outcomes.

In June 2022, our Co-CEOs, Simon Sommer and Fabio Segura, called on EdTech to be more evidence-driven, arguing that “for these new technologies to be accepted at the level needed to make a real impact, they must be rigorously tested and assessed.” Just under two years later, what progress has truly been achieved?

If EdTech is to live up to its vast potential to improve learning outcomes, it must be driven by robust evidence.
John Soleanicov and Libby Hills
John Soleanicov and Libby Hills

This was something that Libby Hills and John Soleanicov – Co-Leads of our Learning Schools portfolio – decided to investigate. They work to place evidence at the core of children’s learning, both in the classroom and through educational technology.

They have facilitated the development of a framework to determine evidence levels in EdTech and measure progress over time. Through this process, they encountered challenges in establishing a straightforward and dependable method for assessing a product or company’s credibility. While numerous rating systems are available, they often involve subjective components or demand significant time and resources from already stretched management teams.

To address these challenges, their aim was to create an assessment enabling the utilization of an existing, widely accepted standard, ideally established by a government or regulatory agency, a process requiring no input from the company being assessed, an understanding of the rigor of available evidence regarding a product, and potential commercial benefits for companies that advanced in the assessment.

Read more about their assessment, which “has the potential to provide transparency to both investors as well as purchasers of EdTech, empowering them to put their capital and resources into the interventions that demonstrate the most efficacy.”