One of the joys of being an educator is having a front-row seat to the constant state of change in a child’s life. Thanks to their limitless curiosity, children are always maturing, evolving, and growing right before our eyes. But it’s easy to miss these changes if you don’t step back and reflect during major milestones.
The end of the school year is one such milestone. This is the season of report cards, proms, and graduation ceremonies. It’s the season for families and teachers to reflect on how children have grown over the last year.
Here at TalkingPoints, we, too, are taking time to reflect on our growth and accomplishments this year.
From its earliest days, TalkingPoints has focused on facilitating better connections. We measure success through the ways teachers and families connect to improve educational experiences and outcomes for children. As our organization evolves, we recognize that we have profound opportunities to use our resources to create deeper and stronger connections. This past year has been about taking tangible steps to bring those opportunities to life.
Connecting through Actionable Research
As an education technology nonprofit, we recognize the power and potential of data to change and define our world. Through our family-school messages, we have hundreds of millions of data points to analyze and understand. We took major leaps forward in undertaking that research over the last year.
Our causal research study quantified TalkingPoints’ impact. The study found that using TalkingPoints leads to higher test scores, course proficiency improvements, and lower absenteeism rates in a large urban, diverse school district. These gains are even more pronounced for traditionally underserved students, including Black students, Latino students, students with disabilities, and English language learners. This research was a validation of our mission and the work we do every day. It was a true high point in the last year for our entire team.
Our research into school-family conversation dynamics took a deeper dive into how educators and families engage on our platform. The study leveraged AI technologies to analyze nearly 40 million TalkingPoints conversations over a 15-month period. It offered actionable takeaways on how families and educators communicate and underscored the need to better understand how the tone of the messages and the topics discussed can impact student success.
These studies have been vital in quantifying our impact and guiding our work. They are the proof points and actionable metrics that will drive deeper connections between educators and families going forward.
Connecting to the Greater Good
Our mission compels us to ensure our work reaches a broad group of families, especially those with limited resources. In 2020, TalkingPoints launched an ambitious three-year plan to scale our reach and impact. We’re thrilled to announce that we have achieved and surpassed our target of raising $20 million. This significant funding enabled us to extend our support to under-resourced students’ families nationwide and provide educators with personalized, research-based resources. It empowered strong family-school partnerships and expanded our vision for impact in the years to come. Closing this fund led to a new strategic plan that will broaden and deepen our impact. We owe this achievement to the incredible generosity of our philanthropic partners.
Connecting with Education Leaders
As we’ve worked to advance our best practices and research, we’ve made it a point to share our work and findings with the larger education community. We’ve published our findings and have received notable industry coverage, including Ed Post and Ed Week. These connections are important in enhancing our organization’s visibility and ensuring others can benefit from our work.
We were also thrilled to deepen our connection with a proven thought leader in education and family engagement: Harvard’s Dr. Karen Mapp joined the TalkingPoints team earlier this year. She will serve as an advisor who will support TalkingPoints as it works to develop a research-driven standard for excellence in strengthening family-school partnerships. It’s been a joy to welcome Dr. Mapp into the fold and learn from her expertise and insights.
These efforts help expand our work to facilitate deeper connections between educators and families, and they’re helping us create a blueprint for a more positive and productive culture at schools and school districts nationwide.
Connecting to More Students and Families
Through it all, we have focused on deepening the connection between millions of educators and families in more places by removing barriers to family-school partnerships.
We are proud to share that we now support communication in 150 languages on our platform, including four languages for which machine translation does not exist, such as Chuukese and Marshallese. We invest in expanding language access on our platform as part of our commitment to make communication understandable, equitable, and accessible so that each and every family can participate in their child’s education – particularly those families who need the most support.
We’re proud of how we’ve leveraged technology to enhance and scale connections between educators and families. As an innovative and tech-forward nonprofit, we built our universal family engagement platform using AI and ChatGPT. We’re working to evolve our platform every day to help schools and families build strong relationships, including capitalizing on the opportunities presented by advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence. We understand the opportunities these resources can bring to educators and families. We also recognize that these emerging technologies can exacerbate inequalities and gaps in learning and connections. By ensuring we focus on serving ALL families, we stay true to our mission to drive student success through truly accessible technology.
Congratulations to all the students who worked so hard over the last year. And congrats to the educators, parents, and partners who made it happen. Have a great summer!