Parallel Learning expands special education remote assessment and tutoring with $20 million round – TechCrunch


If a child is having trouble at school, one of the standard steps is to schedule an assessment for conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD, or anything else that might require a special approach. But with overworked and understaffed teachers and psychologists, Parallel Learning hopes remote options can help get kids back on track with less delay, and has raised $20 million to expand its reach to new States.

The New York-based company was created when it became clear that a new approach was needed in the field of assessment and therapy. In past years, if a child needed an assessment, they got it, and then they got the suggested tutoring or accommodation.

But the number of children eligible for special education has increased in recent years, and districts are struggling to keep up with assessments, let alone the special teaching load this growing cohort needs. Parents can wait six months before a child can receive an official diagnosis or referral, and all the while they may struggle to read, keep up in class, or relate to their peers. And that was before the pandemic, during which those same numbers, along with comorbidities like depression and anxiety, spiked even further.

Parallel provides the same types of services that a school district or parent has used in the past, only in a telehealth setting.

“We haven’t reinvented the wheel – we’re sticking to research that’s already been done,” said the CEO and Founder. Diana Heldfond. “These are proven methods to help children overcome all these challenges; we’re just thinking about how to improve them, how to create tools to deliver this program better.

The assessment and tutoring process works much like it used to, when schools contracted private psychologists in their area to conduct in-person interviews. Parallel is simply doing them online, making the same shift that other medical and professional settings have made – not without a few speed bumps – over the past couple of years. But the alternative is that children are, in essence, neglected on a massive scale.

Screenshot of the parallel learning tutoring and assessment interface.

“There is just a drastic shortage of real suppliers”, Heldfund mentioned. “The reality is not that all students will even get to the point where they graduate. And teachers at all levels have been overstretched over the past two years – special education teachers used to have 30 cases, now they’re looking at 60. We’re able to scale because at the end of the day, we are a technology platform, and we can be efficient with supplier time. »

Parallel employs providers in both assessment and special education capabilities, allowing first for a faster assessment timeline, and then possibly the additional help that comes after. But Heldfund was quick to notice that this was not a diagnostic grinder.

“We work with partners who have full clinical teams bringing together these testing materials, and they’re widely accepted by schools for assessments,” she said — in fact, doing it virtually can have some benefits. “When it comes to psychological assessments, even the smallest distractions can cause it to fail. Being able to do it in a comfortable space like a child’s home or a classroom is better than going to the office. from a psychologist, being pulled out of class and being told you’re different.

Example of a parallel learning development evaluation report.

Example of a parallel learning development evaluation report.

The business model is simple and no different from how agencies and psychologists already operate, but with the added benefit of streamlining paperwork and scheduling through technology. And then, of course, there’s the benefit of not having to drive anywhere to obtain or provide the services.

The $20M A-Round follows a $2.8M starting track, in December 2021. This new round was led by Tiger Global, with participation from Obvious Ventures, Jaws Ventures and Vine Ventures .

The money will allow Parallel to grow, because although as a technology platform it’s easier, they still need to find new psychologists, connect with new school districts, and continue to work and support the product itself.

“We are currently working in 5 states and hope to launch in 12 more by the end of the year,” Heldfond said. “We have taken a very slow and thoughtful approach to expansion, as we realize how personal and important these services are.”

Going from zero to 12 states and $23 million in six months might not be everyone’s idea of ​​”slow and thoughtful,” but it seems Parallel doesn’t want to run into the same hurdles as testing. in person and be just another service that parents have to wait for.


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