Executive Search | Director of Product Management, Assessment Products| Renaissance Learning
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RENAISSANCE LEARNING IN THE NEWS
Renaissance Learning Acquires UClass, Bridges K12 Assessment and Instruction
Reporting directly to Brett Jenkins, Senior VP of Product, this executive will be responsible for driving the strategic plan for the assessment product line. This includes working closely with the product team as well as sales and marketing in order to align product enhancements with market and competitive pressures, and the Renaissance go-to-market strategy.
Does this sound like the opportunity for you? Read on…
Renaissance Learning, Inc. (RLI) began in 1984 when Judi and Terry Paul started the company in the basement of their central Wisconsin home. It went public in 1997 and was taken private by Permira in October 2011. In April of 2014 private equity firm Hellman & Friedman assumed ownership of Renaissance Learning.
Today Renaissance Learning is a world leader in cloud-based assessment, teaching, and learning solutions, with 1,000 employees in North America. Over one-third of U.S. schools as well as schools in more than 60 countries worldwide are customers. While many things have changed over the years, Renaissance Learning’s mission of accelerating learning for all still burns brightly – “Our primary purpose is to accelerate learning for all children and adults of all ability levels and ethnic and social backgrounds, worldwide.”
Renaissance Learning Education Principles are supported through their ground breaking education technology that delivers three core products in Assessment, Teaching, and Learning. RLI’s products are continuously updated and work together seamlessly as a comprehensive solution in the cycle of assessment, teaching, and learning. Renaissance Learning products are among the most widely used tools in K-12 schools. Why? Because they fit the classroom and give educators deep insight into students’ individual needs—what they know, what they like, and how they learn—empowering teachers to individualize instruction and personalize practice to accelerate learning.
These tools work well individually or in concert within an existing education framework to improve results in targeted areas. Used alone or together, RLI’s world-class professional development and customer support ensures that educators have the knowledge, understanding and support for successful implementation.
Differentiation in the Market
Methodologies developed by respected education research scientists, using data sets compiled since 1984, makes RLI’s STAR assessments the most valid and reliable measures of student ability. The assessments are completed in a dramatically reduced testing time than other systems—usually 20 minutes or less. That empowers educators to focus on what matters most: individualizing instruction to accelerate learning for all students. Computer-Adaptive Technology uses sophisticated item calibration and psychometrics to dynamically adjust to each student’s unique responses. Fully supported by extensive research, tests are easy to administer and yield the valid, reliable, actionable data educators need.
Renaissance has developed a high level of trust for its products among educators and industry experts. The Company’s products are backed by approximately 400 research reports. More than 70% of the research on Renaissance’s products has been conducted independently or externally by university researchers, research firms, or school personnel. The Company’s computer adaptive testing platform has been built over decades through advanced research and development and is unique in its ability to determine students’ comprehension and abilities.
High Recurring Revenue Model with Substantial Room for Growth
Renaissance’s subscription model provides for strong recurring orders as customers renew their subscriptions in high proportions. The Company believes that customers renew at very high rates due to the proven efficacy and low costs of Renaissance’s products and limited competing products. Renaissance’s customer renewal rates have typically been in excess of 90% for its products.
Renaissance Learning’s product line fits within the Assess, Teach, Learn framework based on the belief that the company’s principal source of value to educators is delivering insight on what a student knows and what they are ready to learn next.
Renaissance Learning assessments use computer-adaptive technology and extensive item calibration to give an accurate window into each student’s academic progress. The Assessment Product Line, STAR, does this as quickly as possible, and as easily as possible, providing the highest quality data in the least amount of time through a computer adaptive algorithm. As a result, educators can get back to teaching as effectively as possible. With over 100 million Renaissance Learning assessments completed every school year, a never-ending, constantly growing stream of data is harnessed to make the tests more precise. Test items are continually being built and expanded to meet the needs of today’s more rigorous standards.
Teaching is about understanding the needs of each student—what’s clear, what’s confusing, what skills need practice—and then addressing those needs in the right order, so that students can progress. The pathway a student follows to master a complex and interdependent web of skills is called a learning progression.
The vast library of student assessment data lets RLI move beyond expert opinion and create research-validated learning progressions for both Common Core and state standards. By connecting the end objectives to the skills students need to master, an instructional roadmap is provided to show where each student is every day, what skills should be taught next, and a recommended individualized and accelerated learning path. Most importantly, teachers can identify where students are struggling and map backward to address any missing prerequisite skills.
Renaissance does this through Core Progress. Core Progress learning progressions map the inter-related prerequisite skills needed to further conceptual understanding and include resources to help students achieve mastery. Two editions are available for both reading and math—Core Progress and Core Progress Built for Common Core—to optimize alignment with each state’s standards.
Students need to practice the right skills in the right way, and that means continuous feedback on their work. But teachers can’t always be there. Renaissance tools make it easy for students to get immediate feedback and for teachers to get a quick but complete picture of each student’s progress. The teacher is then pointed to what’s needed next. Whether forming student groups or creating personalized learning paths, teachers get the strategies they need to personalize instruction. Renaissance tools set a constant course for achieving the goals of Common Core and state standards in any learning environment.
Accelerated Reader: Accelerated Reader, the company’s flagship software created in 1985 and defined as “reading management software,” is intended to help “teachers guide students’ and motivate them to read more books.”
Accelerated Math: Accelerated Math, a “math management program for grade 1 through calculus,” is designed to work with any curriculum or textbook. It generates “personalized math assignments at each student’s level,” and scores the assignments via scanner. It also provides reports and record-keeping functions to monitor student progress and address individual needs.
The position can be based within commuting distance from a number of Renaissance offices; including New York, the Bay Area, Minneapolis, or Madison, Wisconsin. It reports directly to the Senior VP of Product. The Director of Product Management, Assessment Products, in his/her ownership of the company’s innovative suite of assessment products, will shape the future of Renaissance Learning. This leader will have a whole product orientation in order to successfully influence key stakeholders and lead cross functional teams. This person should have a good familiarity with the lean agile development environments.
Specifically, the Director of Product Management, Assessment Products will:
• Drive product/assessment growth through strategic analysis and leadership.
• Collaborate with groups across the company; driving strategic planning and goal alignment for products.
• Create qualitative market and competitive analysis, and quantitative market analysis including win/loss analysis.
• Improve user engagement by defining and reporting metrics that can drive development and marketing strategies.
• Lead the product committees.
• Write supporting project documents, both internal and external.
• Developed the epics and user stories in the program backlog.
• Review sales and marketing pieces for accuracy.
• Support program level validation efforts.
• Contribute to discussions around phasing of development epics that populate program backlog.
• Communicate and coordinate with multifunctional groups including tech support, training, implementation, services, research, IS.
• Visit classrooms and work at tradeshows to gather customer feedback as well as develop and maintain an understanding of the competition.
• Align efforts on goals including financial and performance metrics.
THE CAREER OPPORTUNITY
For a proven leader in product management, this position offers the following career opportunities—
- The opportunity to drive continued growth in a company in the leading and most innovative assessment company in the marketplace.
- The opportunity to work with creative and high performing teams and cutting-edge products.
- The opportunity for career growth within one of the top companies in the industry.
- The opportunity to live in one of several attractive cities.
THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
The ideal candidate currently works as a senior product manager within a company providing K-12 assessment products. S/he has some familiarity with lean agile development environments. This individual should have deep similarity with the assessment marketplace, including competition and trends.
Specifically, this individual will have the following experience and capabilities –
- 5+ years in assessment product management.
- Deep K-12 sector knowledge and experience in producing competitive and risk analyses.
- Demonstrated ability to be a constant force for innovation and improvement in the development of world class enterprise solutions.
- Experience using agile methodology of product management.
- Experience using lean methodology.
- Experience working cross functionally through the entire product lifecycle.
- The ability to refine the roadmap, set business goals, work with market data surveys, , bring go-to-market strategy experience, identify product opportunities, and define strategy and delivery.
- Experience visiting classrooms and tradeshows together customer feedback and develop and maintain an understanding of the market and the competition..
- A proven, successful track record of developing a suite of products to a new platform solution with in-depth knowledge of leading-edge product trends, requirements, and competitive dynamics.
- Experience in high level strategic roles with experience across operations, consulting, and technology.
- Demonstrated ability to work closely with senior leadership to translate strategic vision into tactical action; to work cross-functionally and communicate effectively with other parts of the business.
- Strong verbal and written communication, facilitation, and interpersonal skills; ability to articulate clear and concise specifications for new products and new features.
- Collaborative and open style which is pro-active and service oriented.
- An adaptive and agile mind-set to adjust to shifts in the market.
- Entrepreneurial, with a natural curiosity to explore new ideas.
- Will possess a high energy level coupled with a consultative style.
- Ability to work under rapid development cycles in a highly-collaborative team environment.
- Experience in the K-12 education market highly desired.
- Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree preferred.
Compensation will include salary, performance bonus, and equity, commensurate with the individual’s experience.
Travel will be in no more than 20% in a year and may include international as well as domestic trips.
INTERVIEW PROCESS | BACKGROUND CHECK
Renaissance Learning has an Employment Application, Work History and Background Check (provided to candidates). The background check includes compensation verification, professional references, employment and education verifications, state and federal criminal history reports, and drug screen.