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Instructure Acquires MasteryConnect, a Company That Specializes in Alternative Assessments

By Henry Kronk
April 02, 2019

Instructure on Tuesday announced it had signed a deal to acquire MasteryConnect, a long-time partner. The company specializes in competency-based assessment. Sometimes called mastery-based learning, it provides an alternative to the end-of-year tests often used for standardized state testing. 

Instructure, the developer of the popular LMSs Canvas and Bridge, did not disclose details of the acquisition. MasteryConnect and Instructure are also neighbors: both edtech companies headquarter themselves in Salt Lake City. 

Instructure’s Acquisition of MasteryConnect Won’t Be Too Disruptive

Instructure does not plan to disrupt MasteryConnect’s existing business and will continue to sell the assessment solution as a stand-alone product. 

As Instructure CEO Dan Goldsmith described in a press release, the acquisition is a show of faith that traditional testing methods are on the way out. ”Today’s educators are trying to move away from archaic, end-of-year testing and looking for more intuitive evaluation models,” Goldsmith said. “Together, Canvas and MasteryConnect will place valuable data in the hands of our teachers, not once, but throughout the year so they can focus on activities that increase student learning.” 

Instead of the one-time end-of-year exam, MasteryConnect assesses students regularly throughout the year with shorter, more targeted tests. Its products were developed with input from Dr. Jonathan Templin, Professor and E .F. Lindquist Chair in the Educational Measurement and Statistics program at the University of Iowa. Teachers in over 14,000 districts across the U.S. already use MasteryConnect assessments. 

By incorporating MasteryConnect products into their LMS Canvas, Instructure can also offer a more seamless assessment experience. This integration does not mark a new offering; it has been available for some time. 

“At Hall County Schools, we consider Canvas and MasteryConnect valuable tools for teaching and learning since they provide teachers the information they need to create a dynamic and engaging blended learning environment,” said Gregory Odell, e-Learning Specialist at Hall County Schools in Georgia. “Our students benefit from both products, and we will benefit overall from these companies coming together to help K-12 students learn and grow.”

MasteryConnect CEO and Co-Founder Mick Hewitt will join Instructure as General Manager of MasteryConnect. “This acquisition brings together many years of partnership and synergies with Instructure,” Hewitt said in a press release. ”It highlights the alignment of our shared mission to transform learning while expanding our reach both domestically and globally.”

The deal is expected to close in seven days. It’s finalization is contingent on closing conditions and approval by MasteryConnect shareholders. 

Instructure and MasteryConnect have long held close ties. Instructure’s first CEO (and friend of former Instructure CEO Josh Coates), Cory Reid formerly served as CEO of MasteryConnect. 

Instructure Is on a Roll

The acquisition comes on the heels of another. In February, Instructure paid $43 million in a combination of cash and stock to take over Portfolium, a platform that allows students to showcase their work in a digital portfolio. 

According to the e-Literate blog run by edtech consultants Michael Feldstein and Phill Hill, Instructure surpassed their primary competitor, Blackboard, in terms of North American market share last fall. The company has not slowed their momentum since. 

Featured Image: Garrett, Flickr.