Higher Ground Education Acquires Altitude Learning LMS to Accelerate ‘Montessori Everywhere’ Mission

·6 min read

• Higher Ground Education has acquired the Altitude Learning LMS technology, along with Altitude’s product and engineering teams, to invest further in high-agency curriculum, pedagogy, and teacher training. The acquisition brings in-house the underlying tools that power Higher Ground’s wide range of offerings and accelerates its mission to power the global growth of Montessori-informed pedagogy and practices.

Higher Ground's investment in technology comes on the heels of a $40 million Series C equity raise, led by Venn Growth Partners and joined by existing investors Learn Capital, Peak State Ventures, Nimble Ventures, and more.

• Higher Ground operates the largest network of Montessori schools, with over 80 locations across the US and Asia, and at-home and virtual learning programs across the globe, serving more than 7,000 students worldwide.

• In 2020, the company doubled its enrollment across programs, added 27 campuses to its network of schools, expanded its virtual offerings to serve all time zones, and launched a partner program that supports public and private schools looking to implement Montessori pedagogy from preschool through high school.

• Higher Ground also operates a nationally accredited teacher training program, The Prepared Montessorian, that supports the global Montessori sector in its workforce development.

Higher Ground Education, Inc., the leading network of schools dedicated to Montessori education, has acquired Altitude Learning’s technology platform, an industry-leading learning management system that enables learner-centered education. Higher Ground will bring the Altitude software and engineering team in-house to help expand the depth and breadth of its current offerings. The acquisition, which comes on the heels of a $40-million Series C equity raise, fuses Higher Ground’s pedagogical expertise and vision with Altitude’s learner-centered software to enable parents, students and educators to seamlessly access Montessori-inspired education or training no matter where they reside.

Altitude Learning has been building a learner-centered ecosystem since 2013. It was first established as AltSchool, a personalized 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-centered programs in public and private sector schools. As part of its work, the company developed the Altitude platform: an LMS that delivers powerful learning experiences, naturally integrates with research on best practices in learning and assessment, and interfaces with students in a way that aids self-directed study and work.

By acquiring Altitude’s software, Higher Ground will be able to invest further in the technology, adding features that expand the scope and reach of the organization’s current offerings and accelerating its mission to power the 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 seamless transfer of children and families across the Higher Ground network as they grow and as their life circumstances change. Higher Ground’s state-of-the-art teacher training, The Prepared Montessorian, also leverages the Altitude technology, enabling aspiring educators across the world to develop and internalize a deep and enduring expertise in Montessori principles and practice.

"Our focus at Higher Ground has always been on world-changing (and world-saving) pedagogical reform," said Ray Girn, CEO of Higher Ground and former teacher and curriculum developer. "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 realizing 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."

Higher Ground and Altitude Learning to Accelerate Respective Missions Through Acquisition

Higher Ground and Altitude Learning have already enjoyed a long-standing partnership: since its founding in 2016, Higher Ground has built and grown its unique program offerings on the Altitude platform, while Altitude has informed its platform development via insights from Higher Ground’s pedagogical experts. In addition, both organizations have partnered to support learner-centered public and private schools throughout the United States.

As a global provider of Montessori-informed education and teacher training, Higher Ground has focused its efforts on directly offering parents and educators authentic Montessori programming at school, at home, and virtually, from infancy through adolescence. All of its programs innovatively fuse digital tools with physical materials, combining the best of virtual learning with place-based programming. Animated by an original historical thesis about how and why education has suffered from a theoretical false alternative, Higher Ground combines the deep knowledge approach of a traditional classical liberal education with the progressive idea that all learning is self-directed and fundamentally auto-didactic.

Now, Higher Ground’s acquisition of the Altitude platform will accelerate its mission to offer the world a new pedagogical paradigm at scale, covering education from infancy through adolescence. The company’s emphasis on pedagogy and learning science will remain in the forefront, unleashed by a powerful digital learning platform.

Ben Kornell, Chief Executive Officer of Altitude Learning, will join Higher Ground to ensure continuity of operations, as well as to directly support the two organizations’ shared platform vision.

"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," said Kornell. "To the extent that our dream has always been to see educators utilize our platform to create revolutionary paradigms, nowhere is that dream being achieved more than it is at Higher Ground."

The organizations will implement a gradual transition plan to ensure continuity of technology access and operating support for students, parents, and educators served by both organizations.

"Integrating Altitude’s technology with Higher Ground Education is a win-win for everyone," says Maris Mendes, Chief Operating Officer at Higher Ground. "We see a vast market need for a comprehensive platform to power the growth of Montessori, and our unique programming ensures that Altitude’s software achieves its full potential for impact."

About Higher Ground Education

Founded in 2016 by seasoned Montessori educators and entrepreneurs, Higher Ground operates the largest growing network of Montessori schools, with over 80 locations across the US and China. It has grown into an omni-channel business offering in-person, at-home, and virtual learning options that enable parents, students, and educators to seamlessly access Montessori-inspired education and training, no matter where they reside. The company places particular emphasis on accommodating families’ ability to travel and migrate, and regards "continuity of education" as one of its core value propositions. To learn more, visit tohigherground.com.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210120005015/en/

Contacts

Pat Lynch
plynch@tohigherground.com