Parallel Learning Expands Distance Assessment of Special Education and Tutoring by $ 20 Million – TechCrunch

If a child is having problems at school, one of the standard steps is to schedule an assessment of conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD, or anything else that may require a special approach. But because teachers and psychologists are overwhelmed and lacking, Parallel Learning hopes remote options will help get children back on track with less delay, and has raised $ 20 million to expand into new states.

The company from New York was founded when it became clear that a new approach in the space of assessment and therapy was needed. In previous years, when a child needed an assessment, they received it and then received tutoring or an offer of housing.

But the number of children eligible for special education has increased in recent years, and areas are having difficulty even keeping up with estimates, not to mention the special pedagogical workload that this growing cohort needs. Parents can wait six months before their child makes a formal diagnosis or recommendation, and all the while they may have difficulty reading, staying in class, or communicating with their peers. And that was before the pandemic, during which those same numbers along with comorbidities such as depression and anxiety rose even higher.

Parallel provides the same types of services that were previously used by the school district or parents, only in a telemedicine setting.

“We did not invent the wheel – we follow the research already done,” said the CEO and founder. Diana Heldfond. “These are proven methods of helping children overcome all of these challenges; we’re just thinking about how to make them better, how to create tools to better perform this curriculum. ”

The assessment and tutoring process works the same way as before, when schools contracted with private psychologists in their fields to conduct personal interviews. Parallel simply makes them online, doing the same thing as other medical and professional contexts – not without some hurdles – over the last two years. But the alternative is children, in fact, neglected on a scale.

Screenshot of the learning interface and assessment of parallel learning.

“There’s just a drastic shortage of genuine suppliers,” Heldfund said. “The reality is that not all students are even going to get to the point where they will get a qualification. And teachers in all areas have been overwhelmed over the last couple of years – the special edition teachers used to have a workload of 30, now they look at 60. We can scale because, after all, we are a technology platform and we can use suppliers’ time efficiently. “

Parallel uses vendors as appraisals and special education, which first allows for faster appraisal and then, if desired, receive additional assistance that comes after. But Heldfund hastened to note that this is not some diagnosis.

“We work with partners who have complete clinical teams to collect these test materials, and they are widely accepted in schools for evaluation,” she said. “When it comes to psychological assessments, even the smallest distractions can bring it down. Being able to do this in a comfortable space, such as a child’s home or classroom, is better than going to a psychologist’s office when you’re pulled out of class and told you’re different. “

Example of a Development Assessment Report from Parallel Learning.

Example of a Development Assessment Report from Parallel Learning.

The business model is simple and no different from how agencies and psychologists already work, but with the added bonus of document sorting and technology planning. And of course, there’s the advantage that you don’t have to go anywhere to get or provide services.

The $ 20 million round follows a starting path of $ 2.8 million, back in December 2021. This new one was led by Tiger Global with Obvious Ventures, Jaws Ventures and Vine Ventures.

The money will increase Parallel because, although as a technology platform it is easier, they still need to look for new psychologists, communicate with new school districts and continue to work and maintain the product itself.

“We are currently working in 5 states and hope to launch another 12 by the end of the year,” Heldfond said. “We have been very slow and thoughtful about expanding because we are aware of how personal and important these services are.”

Going from zero to 12 states and $ 23 million in six months may not be a notion of “slow and careful” for everyone, but it seems that Parallel does not want to face the same obstacles as personal testing, and be just another service. which parents should have. to wait.

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