Higher Ground Education, a network of Montessori schools, has acquired Altitude Learning’s learning management system, and said it will bring the Altitude software and engineering team in-house.

San Francisco-based Altitude Learning was established in 2013 as AltSchool, a personalised learning software company backed by investors including Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. It later evolved to focus on driving adoption of learner-centred programmes in public and private sector schools and, as part of its work, the company developed the Altitude platform.

By acquiring Altitude’s software, Higher Ground said it will be able to invest further in the technology, adding features that expand the scope and reach of the organisation’s current offerings and accelerating its mission to encourage global growth of Montessori-informed pedagogy and practices.

Higher Ground already uses the Altitude LMS to host original, custom-designed curriculum, to enable a Montessori-informed assessment framework, and to ensure the transfer of children and families across the Higher Ground network over time and as their life circumstances change.

Higher Ground’s teacher training, The Prepared Montessorian, also leverages the Altitude technology, helping educators across the world to understand Montessori principles and practice.

Ray Girn, chief executive of Higher Ground, said: “Our focus at Higher Ground has always been on world-changing and world-saving pedagogical reform. We believe that Montessori principles, properly understood and thoughtfully implemented, can transform the way that children are raised, and that those children will in turn transform the way human beings co-exist harmoniously.

“But fully realising Montessori’s timeless pedagogical vision requires a new technological paradigm. High-agency education, if it is to be effective and accessible, requires an LMS that can function as the digital equivalent to a Montessori shelf, with all the pedagogical innovation and richness such an approach implies. We found precisely that technology in the Altitude platform. Altitude enables us to greatly expand and accelerate the application and extension of Montessori programming without compromise.”

Ben Kornell, chief executive of Altitude Learning, will join Higher Ground to ensure continuity of operations, and to “support the two organisations’ shared platform vision”.

Kornell said: “Higher Ground has been a super-user of Altitude and has repeatedly wowed the Altitude team with the many novel ways in which they’ve leveraged the platform. To the extent that our dream has always been to see educators utilise our platform to create revolutionary paradigms, nowhere is that dream being achieved more than it is at Higher Ground.”

The acquisition comes on the heels of a $40 million Series C equity raise by Higher Ground, which is headquartered in Lake Forest, California.

Date published: 22 January 2021

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