The celebrated edtech CEO on personalized intervention critical to support students – and her commitment to teaching and learning.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
She leads her company’s strategic vision and long-term growth as President, CEO, and Board Director. Since re-joining Edmentum in 2017, Jamie Candee has continuously focused on putting educators at the forefront of Edmentum programs and services, all of which are designed to identify and support unique learning styles while improving student outcomes.
Over the past five years, Jamie has received numerous awards including the 2022 POW! (Power of Women) Award from ASU+GSV, which recognizes influential female leaders providing equal access to the future through education; the 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year Heartland Award by Ernst & Young, and one of EdTech Digest’s Top 100 Influencers in EdTech in 2018.
She founded Edmentum’s We Can Learn foundation in 2017, committed to making a meaningful impact in education, through philanthropic giving and service that supports equitable and innovative learning opportunities. Jamie also is fiercely committed to supporting dynamic organizations, and serves on numerous boards, including America Succeeds, The Learning Tree International, and Education Staffing Solutions.
Jamie is considered a thought leader on topics such as women in leadership, innovation in education, modern technology, private equity, and education policy. She has spoken at numerous conferences including ASU+GSV and AASA, Ed Tech weeks in NY and MN, edtech-focused investor conferences across the country, and has been quoted in variety of national and industry publications such as Forbes, The New York Times, Today, The74 and EdTech Digest. Jamie holds a Master of Business Administration from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Science in political science from the University of Wisconsin.
‘I love that I can wake up every day and be around people who share my commitment to teaching and learning.’
“I love that I can wake up every day and be around people who share my commitment to teaching and learning,” says Jamie. “Edmentum is committed to personalizing learning for every student we serve, as well as supporting teachers in their mission to support every student. We will not stop pursuing our goal to ensure every student in this country can learn and be successful.”
What are you seeing as the primary challenge facing education leaders today? Does it continue to be about post-pandemic interventions and teacher shortages, or have those concerns shifted?
It does, but there are nuances to some of these concerns. For example, teacher shortages continue to be prevalent, but in pockets rather than a widespread issue across the country.
Intervention continues to be an important topic especially with the learning losses reported over the past few years.
That said, what we’re hearing from educators is that the root cause of learning loss is really lack of student engagement, which manifests in behavioral, cognitive or emotional ways.
Students are struggling with how to adapt in a “typical” classroom environment and having trouble with socialization at levels not seen before the pandemic. This makes intervention, and specifically, personalized intervention critical to support students.
Are you seeing an increased demand for evidence-based practices, particularly in the wake of ESSER funds drying up? How are school districts prioritizing solutions that directly support improved student outcomes?
Intervention continues to be important post-pandemic, especially personalized intervention solutions. Educators are looking for evidence-based practices that can be seamlessly integrated into their existing curriculum, and help them provide remediation (or acceleration) depending on each student’s needs.
‘Educators are looking for evidence-based practices that can be seamlessly integrated into their existing curriculum, and help them provide remediation (or acceleration) depending on each student’s needs.’
The right, high-quality virtual learning solution can provide personalized intervention and acceleration for each student, allowing educators to measure student progress, assess grade level readiness and determine where more involvement is needed. This also enables teachers to devote more attention to building productive relationships with students and ensuring they are engaged in a variety of ways.
How is Edmentum supporting school districts nationwide to address the teacher retention and recruitment challenges that continue to be an issue in some regions?
Right – there are some states, like South Carolina, where teacher shortages continue to be a big issue. We can support school districts in a variety of ways – ranging from providing an entire virtual curriculum or by supplementing individual courses, including the virtual educator.
We’re doing this successfully through our EdOptions Academy in numerous school districts. In many instances, districts are reallocating the teachers they do have to in-person settings and we’re providing the virtual course (and teacher) options.
How is your company supporting students as they prepare for life post high school – whether that be college or career?
We need to rethink high school to make it work better for each student, wherever and however they learn, and do so in ways that better support a more diverse, flexible set of learning experiences and post secondary pathways. Part of that is providing opportunities for career-connected learning, developing and delivering important career and technical curriculum options for districts. With the increased demand for technical education, we know this is a critical need across the country. We also know that students who participate in CTE tend to complete high school at higher rates than their counterparts – 97% compared to 83% graduation rate overall, so this supports overall graduation rates.
‘We need to rethink high school to make it work better for each student, wherever and however they learn…’
Similarly, for students who are college bound, we offer a variety of test preparation courses as well as advanced placement options for those looking for a jump start. We know that more students are taking AP courses than ever before – it boosts college acceptances, exposes students to college-level work, and gives them a head start towards their college goals. In fact, students taking Edmentum’s AP courses earned higher scores than the national average on all AP exams.
I can’t let you go without talking about AI. How are you navigating this new evolution that will significantly impact K-12, and what are you doing to support school districts to embrace this new phase of technology?
We’ve been focusing on the best way to address educator concerns around academic integrity, including AI generated content and plagiarism. Artificial intelligence is here to stay. We need to embrace the technology and provide guidance on how to use it constructively rather than making it a punitive experience. We recently partnered with Copyleaks, an AI-based text analysis platform that allows teachers to detect potential plagiarism and the presence of AI content across text and images. This is now an add-on solution to our Courses and Courseware products.
‘As we head into this school year, I think there will be a tremendous focus on accountability in terms of mitigating learning loss and getting students back up to grade level.’
What do you think we can expect as we enter the 2023-2024 school year? What do you anticipate will be the focus this year and what are you excited about when you think about the future of K-12?
As we head into this school year, I think there will be a tremendous focus on accountability in terms of mitigating learning loss and getting students back up to grade level. That focus will drive the need for accurate assessments that can direct which level of intervention solutions are needed for each student. We know these evidence-based practices are on the minds of district leaders. Our intervention solutions are designed to support credit recovery and tutoring as well as acceleration where needed, and we have the research that demonstrates our solutions align with standardized state assessment exams.
Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: email@example.com