Osage Venture Partners is excited to announce that we recently participated in the $10M Series A round for TeachFX, a company changing the future of education by empowering educators to drive greater student outcomes through technology that provides frequent and meaningful feedback on their practice.
Despite knowing that teacher quality is the most significant in-classroom output to student outcomes, school administrators struggle to provide timely, meaningful, frequent feedback to help teachers master their craft. The RAND Corporation conducted a study during the 2016-2017 school year and found that sadly 88% of teachers received feedback only once per year, only 35% received feedback 2+ times per month, and 12% never received feedback at all.
TeachFX offers a platform for educators to first record audio of themselves teaching and then receive data, insights, and feedback on their discourse with students in the classroom. TeachFX’s proprietary voice artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms provide feedback and insights on how the educator used research-backed teaching practices like uptake of student contributions or asking open-ended questions that prompt further discussion. Through independent randomized control trial (RCT) studies, as well as their own internal analysis of over 100,000 hours of audio from K-12 classrooms across the US, TeachFX has demonstrated clear and compelling efficacy, both in promoting better teaching and better student outcomes. Last year, teachers receiving TeachFX feedback in a large-scale RCT increased their use of uptake by 24%, and teachers overall using TeachFX increased student talk by an average of 40% This led to students reporting a more positive learning experience, better mental health, turning in more assignments, and having higher academic achievement overall.
To date, education technology innovations have not disrupted or drastically improved the challenges that plague teacher professional development. Companies like Practice, Edthena, and Torsh introduced video technology in 2011. While solving some problems, watching videos is time consuming, and thus, these solutions have not solved infrequent teacher feedback. A number of public school principals we interviewed noted that due to time constraints, they find it difficult to provide consistent, meaningful feedback.
In addition to solving the problem of infrequent teacher feedback, TeachFX tackles some of the massive inequities in our education system. The University of Chicago found that about half of the variation in classroom teaching efficacy is due to teachers, and that classrooms taught by the same teacher with higher percentages of Black and Latinx students receive lower quality of teaching. TeachFX allows teachers to promote inclusive discourse and gives all teachers access to frequent feedback, therefore increasing equity in the classroom and giving students of color more opportunities to have high-quality teaching in public schools.
TeachFX sits in multiple large and exciting markets. There are 3.7M K-12 teachers in the US and this number is expected to reach 3.9M by 2023. TeachFX also has opportunities in other industries. The virtual K-12 PD and online tutoring markets are both new and emerging areas that could be significant opportunities. The global online K-12 education market is projected to be worth $9B by 2023, and TeachFX’s product has had success in both brick-and-mortar and online classrooms. The product is being used by 8,500 teachers across the US and the company has expanded their partnerships with schools and districts by 9x in the past year.
As with any investment, the most important criterion for all OVP investments is the team. TeachFX was founded by Jamie Poskin and Berk Coker, who met at Stanford University’s social impact and entrepreneurship club. Jamie experienced the problem himself as a teacher in Harlem and researched it in graduate school at Stanford. While completing his graduate studies in computer science, Berk worked under Dan Jurafsky, a renowned NLP professor and MacArthur recipient. Jamie and Berk are joined by an incredible team including Cynthia McMurry, who leads operations, Nicole Hemenway Bratz, who leads product, Rachel Jordan, who leads marketing and many more including several former classroom teachers who lived the problem TeachFX now solves. TeachFX is an incredibly mission-driven company, and this culture is exemplified by the entire team.
We are quite excited to join several respected and successful investors to support TeachFX including, but not limited to, Reach Capital, Pearson Ventures, Brighteye Ventures, Newfund Capital, and Ulu Ventures. We look forward to partnering with TeachFX to revolutionize how we help teachers develop and ultimately improve student outcomes and equity.