Parallel Learning invests $20 million in special education evaluation

An examination for problems such as dyslexia or ADHD is one of the most common first steps when a child is experiencing difficulties in school and needs more attention. Parallel Learning, which has funded $20 million to extend its reach to other states in the hopes that remote choices would help students get back on track faster due to a shortage of qualified instructors and psychologists.

Because of the obvious need for a novel method to evaluation and treatment in New York, the firm was founded. A student who required an evaluation in the past received it, along with the tutoring or other accommodations recommended, in the past.

However, as the number of students requiring special education has risen in recent years, districts have found it difficult to keep up with evaluations alone, much alone the increasing workload of special educators required to serve this expanding cohort. Before a diagnosis or advice can be offered to parents, a child may have been struggling to read, keep up in class, or connect with their friends for as long as six months. Before the epidemic, these same numbers, as well as comorbidities like sadness and anxiety, soared even more.

As a telehealth service provider, Parallel offers the same services that school districts and parents have previously relied on.

CEO Diana Heldfond remarked, “We haven’t reinvented the wheel—we’re keeping to the research that’s previously been done.” When we think about how we can better offer that curriculum, we think about how we can improve these tried-and-true approaches of helping students overcome these difficulties.”

Assessment and tutoring are still conducted in the same manner as they were in the past, when schools hired professional psychologists to conduct in-person interviews. As with other medical and professional settings that have made the changeover in the previous two years, Parallel isn’t without some speed bumps, but it does it online. The alternative, on the other hand, is massive neglect of children.

An example of the tutoring and assessment interface in Parallel Learning.

According to Heldfond, “there’s simply a tremendous scarcity of genuine suppliers.” In actuality, not all students will make it to the stage where they are eligible for certification. The workload of special education instructors has increased from 30 to 60 in the previous few years, which is a sign of the overburdening of all teachers. Because we’re a digital platform, we can be economical with providers’ time and hence grow.”

Parallel uses providers in the assessment and special education capacities, first enabling for a faster evaluation turnaround and then optionally the additional assistance that follows following. He was eager to point out that this isn’t a diagnostic mill, though.

When it comes to testing, “we collaborate with partners that have whole clinical teams putting up these test materials, and they’re universally approved by schools for assessments,” she said—in fact, conducting it electronically may have certain benefits. ” The smallest of distractions may have a big impact on psychological assessments. Being able to do this at home or in a classroom is preferable than travelling to a psychologist’s office, being taken out of class, and being told you’re different.”

An example of a Parallel learning developmental assessment report

Technology-enabled efficiency of paperwork and scheduling is an extra advantage to the business model that is not different to how agencies and psychologists now operate. As a bonus, there’s the convenience of being able to obtain or deliver services without having to travel.

Following a $2.8 million seed round in December 2021, a $20 million A round has been completed. Tiger Global, Obvious Ventures, Jaws Ventures, and Vine Ventures participated in this latest round.

Even though Parallel is a tech platform, they still need to find new psychologists, engage with new school districts, and keep working on the product itself. The money will help Parallel to grow.

As of now, the company is active in five states, with plans to expand to 12 more by year’s end. “We’ve taken a very gradual and careful approach to expanding because we know how personal and crucial these services are.”

When it comes to “slow and considerate,” Parallel may not be everyone’s notion of “slow and thoughtful,” but it doesn’t want to be just another service that parents have to wait for, either.