Illuminate Education will stop support for its student information system in two years, before the 2021 school year. In an email sent Tuesday morning, the company notified customers to plan for a replacement for the Illuminate Student Information product, also known as ISI.
The email, signed by Illuminate CEO Christine Willig, says customers must switch to a new system, recommending by name Aequitas, Aeries, Infinite Campus and Skyward because they “have solid integration protocols” between their systems and Illuminate’s data and assessment platform, called DnA.
Illuminate, based in Irvine, Calif., decided to shut down the system to focus on services that are more directly aligned to “student achievement,” according to the email. That reasoning has some similar undertones to the explanation given by Pearson when it sold its student information system, PowerSchool, in 2015. The publisher said then that the sale would “enable us to focus more directly on learning outcomes.”
“As we evaluated where Illuminate Education could make the biggest impact for both educators and students, we determined that directing our resources to the area of student achievement would best serve the educational community,” the Illuminate email says. “Channeling our focus to the areas where we believe we can make the greatest potential impact will enable us to support our customer districts even better.”
In a statement to EdSurge, a company spokesperson said: “We also recognize and appreciate that any change, including those that involve systems and software, requires time and attention.” The spokesperson declined to say if the shutdown comes with further layoffs or how many schools are impacted.
A look at over 5,000 school districts representing 50 million students in the U.S. and Canada by research firm LISTedTECH shows that Illuminate has a fairly small market share among providers of K-12 student information systems, also called SIS.
Illuminate’s SIS is used in 3 percent of districts with fewer than 4,999 students, according to the analysis. The company has a 2 percent share of districts with more than 5,000 students.
The top SIS company across districts of all sizes is PowerSchool, with a share ranging from 21 percent to 35 percent of schools in each size category.
LISTedTECH's breakdown of student information system market share by company by school district size. Source: ListedTECH
Dan Carroll, co-founder and chief product officer at Clever, a company that helps schools manage user accounts for education software and works closely with student information systems, says Illuminate’s SIS is used in around 100 school districts that also use Clever.
According to Carroll, many of Illuminate’s SIS customers are in California, where another provider, Aeries, is based. “I’d guess Aeries folks are reaching out to districts today,” he says.
And while Illuminate has given customers two years to prepare for data migration, districts usually like to plan five years out for student information system needs, according to Carroll, a former school technology administrator. “It’s going to be a major headache,” he predicts.
Illuminate has been on an acquisition spree for tools offering K-12 formative assessments, reporting and analytics and data visualization. Owned by private equity firm Insight Ventures Partners, Illuminate has spent upwards of $100 million on acquisitions and bought 12 companies in the last three years.
But those deals have come with additional costs. EdSurge reported that the company laid off around 50 employees in June, bringing its headcount to around 600. Illuminate CEO Willig told EdSurge at the time she had no plans to let others go.
Illuminate claims to serve 12 million students in all 50 states through its entire suite of data and assessment products.