Memphis kids have already been back in school for a week and a half now. Kids across the country will return to school in the next month, and parents know that means tons of paperwork.
I homeschool my 3 boys now, but I remember the mountains of paperwork my oldest brought home last year. Often 5 or more sheets a day including notices, announcements, and progress reports. And that was just one kid!
Our dining room table was buried under mountains of papers I didn’t really need, and the recycling bin needed constant emptying. And, honestly, I so rarely paid real attention to them that I often had to email the teacher or room mom to double check dates and times. (I’m sure they loved that.) I remember thinking that in our modern world, it was ridiculous there were still so many papers coming home.
I think the guys at TeacherGraph read my mind.
The Austin startup, founded by former Facebooker Joseph Van and Tony Le, officially launches in 3 days, on August 17th. The system allows schools or teachers to enter information once and be delivered to parents in the digital format they prefer. The platform will also enable schools to analyze data, such as the correlation between communication activity and academic performance.
Edtech startups are a mixed bag. Across the country people are thinking a lot about how to improve our schools, and that means smart people like Van and Le are thinking up solutions to every problem imaginable. And, as my story above indicates, school communication is definitely a problem.
The challenge for TeacherGraph will be adoption. Schools are notoriously bureaucratic, and it can be extremely hard to get in with a system. Van and Le probably figured that out, as they used UT Elementary Charter School for their beta testing. Charter schools are an easier market for tech startups because they can make decisions without consulting a larger school system. It was also a smart move because charter school parents are often more engaged than typical elementary parents.
The other challenge for TeacherGraph (and most other edtech startups) is competition. The field–only recently opened–is now full of companies trying to beat each other to the punch. Companies like EduBuzzer and Remind101 also have their own takes on parent teacher communications, and all 3 companies are competing against entrenched–if outdated–systems that are hard to route out.
Still, TeacherGraph is addressing a problem so obvious we often forget it’s there. I like the idea of information being delivered in the format parents prefer, but without extra work for the school. They’ve made great progress with their beta, and the addition of data analysis could be interesting for teachers and schools trying to do the best for the children.