Nick Nelson, 11/11/13
As many parents would attest, when it comes to matters of K-12 school zoning and resource allocation, conversations can grow pretty emotional. People care deeply about the quality of education their young children are receiving.
When touchy issues like this are in play, there’s only one acceptable basis for making decisions and setting guidelines: objective and transparent analytics.
Data and statistics have long been utilized for this purpose, but the people behind GuideK12 believe that such analytical information won’t truly resonate unless it can viewed in an understandable and digestible format. That’s why they feel that their software, which is built around geovisual analytics, is an indispensable tool for making critical decisions at the district level.
“Geovisual analytics is a new way to talk about analytics in education,” says GuideK12 CEO Chuck Amos. “This helps people see their data in a really different way.”
Picture a Google Maps layout with countless variables (displayed in the form of markers and differently colored zones) that can be applied and instantly visualized for impact analysis.
The tool links student information with household data to provide vital demographic details, enabling administrators to see and share how various changes would affect their district. This information can then be used to inform numerous decisions, such as boundary realignments, school choice impact studies, crisis planning and more.
“Schools are awash in data,” Amos says. “They don’t need more data. What’s missing is the insight from the data they already have. We bring that data to life in a way that really empowers key leaders in districts to make better decisions about how they deal with their kids and how they allocate resources.”
This hasn’t always been the signature offering from GuideK12. In fact, up until last year, that name didn’t even exist.
Amos and his colleagues jokingly refer to their business as a 20-year-old startup; long ago, the company got its start by hand-printing wall maps for transportation directors in K-12 institutions. When the world of printed maps went into decline, the organization saw a need to examine its core competencies and reinvent itself.
Ultimately that led to the development of this geovisual analytic software technology, which was launched in May of 2012 under the company’s new banner.
Now, GuideK12 is marching forward, selling its service to school districts across the country. Amos says that the customer base has grown “fairly dramatically” in 18 months since the product’s launch, serving districts both large (such as Miami-Dade, FL, with 750,000 students) and small (such as Farmington, NM, with 7,000 students).
Based in Eagan and owned by the private equity investment firm Platinum Equity, GuideK12 employs a full-time staff of around 10 people, with contractors and specialists being utilized as needed. Amos just stepped in as CEO last year, bringing with him about two decades of experience in the education field.
Although they fully believe that their technology could be applied to other markets in many different useful ways, right now the folks at GuideK12 are fully focused on the education sector. It’s a huge market, rivaling health care and defense, so there is no shortage of opportunity.
Author: Nick Nelson