Seeking Alpha

Archipelago Learning, Inc. - NASDAQ

4/20/2014, 5:32 AM ET
Quote & Analysis Breaking News StockTalk Description
Sector: Services
Country: United States

Archipelago Learning is a leading subscription-based online education company. We provide standards-based instruction, practice, assessments and productivity tools that improve the performance of educators and students via proprietary web-based platforms. Study Island, our core product line, helps students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, or K-12, master grade level academic standards in a fun and engaging manner. As of December 31, 2009, Study Island products were utilized by over 9.5 million students in 21,705 schools in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Canada. During 2009, students answered approximately 3.2 billion of our practice questions. We recently began offering online postsecondary programs through our Northstar Learning product line.

We capitalize on two significant trends in the education market: (1) an increased focus on higher academic standards and educator accountability for student achievement, which has led to periodic assessment in the classroom to gauge student learning and inform instruction, also known as formative assessment, and (2) the increased availability and utilization of web-based technologies to enhance and supplement teacher instruction, engage today’s technology-savvy learners and improve student outcomes.

Despite spending an estimated $630 billion in the 2007-2008 school year on K-12 education — more than any other developed country — the United States ranks 25th in the world in the quality of its primary education system, according to the World Economic Forum. In response to this gap, policymakers and parents are paying greater attention to the effectiveness of U.S. public schools, demanding higher educational standards and accountability from teachers, administrators and school districts. In addition, increased usage and acceptance of online technology is changing how educational content, such as lessons, homework and assessments, is delivered and utilized. These new educational tools and technologies help improve the learning experience of students by augmenting the teaching techniques of skilled teachers and supporting and strengthening the skills of inexperienced or less effective instructors.

Our Study Island products are designed to improve educational results and meet accountability criteria, leveraging the widespread adoption of online technologies. Study Island combines rigorous content that is highly customized to specific standards in reading, math, science and social studies with interactive features that reinforce and reward student accomplishments. We believe faculty and school administrators purchase Study Island because it is an innovative, low-cost and high-impact solution for enhancing teacher effectiveness, promoting student learning of core subject concepts and skills and preparing students for state standardized tests. By enabling teachers to track student performance in real-time, Study Island facilitates differentiated instruction to address learning gaps for individual students, while allowing administrators to monitor student progress and measure teacher effectiveness. Study Island was recognized as one of the top 100 educational products for the 2008-2009 school year by District Administration magazine’s reader’s choice survey.

Our flexible web-based distribution model and in-house content development capabilities allow us to continually update and improve our products, distribute our products in a cost-efficient manner, and price our products affordably. Over the last nine years we have created a digital library of approximately 350,000 proprietary questions and explanations, a simple but elegant content management system and HTML authoring system, and a built-in ability to dynamically generate additional questions.

We have significantly grown the number of students and schools served by our products since our inception in 2000. From 2000 to 2006, we concentrated our efforts on developing our Study Island products, increasing from 27 products to 429 products during that period. In 2007, we began focusing on managing our growth and operations more efficiently, particularly with the hiring of our current management team. In addition, we have developed a sophisticated sales and marketing force that has been successful in growing our sales and customer base. We increased the number of school customers and registered student users of our Study Island products, from approximately 7,800 schools and 3.0 million students in 2006, to 21,705 schools and over 9.5 million students as of December 31, 2009.

We intend to utilize our Study Island content development and assessment expertise to target various instruction, assessment and exam preparation areas within the postsecondary education market through our Northstar Learning product line, which provides instruction, practice, assessment and test preparation for targeted high enrollment postsecondary course areas.