Amplio wants to level the playing field for students with special needs

The state of special education in the United States leaves much to be desired.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 7.3 million students ages 3 to 21 received special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2019-20. That’s 14% of all public school students. US law requires education systems to include students with special needs, and billions are spent each year to do so.

Children with special learning needs (speech disorders, learning disabilities, autism, etc.) face personal, social, academic and professional challenges. For example, children with learning disabilities have a life expectancy 16 years lower than the general population.

Yet the system continues to fail many of these students. Only 65% ​​of special education students graduate from high school on time, compared to 83% of all students.

That’s where Amplio comes in, a Maryland-based edtech startup that offers a learning platform for special education.

Since the launch of the platform in early 2019, tens of thousands of students have worked with Amplio. Combining learning management systems with curricula and programs designed to accelerate student progress and empower educators, the Amplio platform combines evidence-based methodologies with artificial intelligence, natural language processing and Big Data technology. (It also supports in-person and distance learning, ensuring continuity of services for vulnerable students.)

“Amplio’s mission is to help students with special learning needs reach their full potential using the power of technology,” said CEO Yair Shapira. “Our platform is designed to help our most vulnerable students accelerate their learning and set them up for success.”

Among Amplio’s program offerings are K-6 fluency and literacy, K-4 comprehension, and K-3 syntax and morphology.

The company recently launched a new speech impairment curriculum with structured protocols and learning pathways that educators can use or adapt to help students reach their IEP goals faster. Educators can share ideas and results. By collecting over 15 million data points, the Amplio learning platform can also learn from educators and continuously adapt based on what works best to help accelerate student learning.

“There are dozens of edtech solutions serving the general education population, but they don’t work for students with special learning needs because they require intensive instruction and individualized interventions based on their needs. specific,” says Shapira. “We also place a strong emphasis on helping educators increase instructional fidelity with integrated curricula and evidence-based programs delivered through our Special Education Learning Platform while reducing their indirect workload.”

With approximately 100 employees split between their Israeli and US offices, Amplio has agreements with hundreds of school districts as well as state agencies. In the process, the company also raised $37 million from growth capital investors. The company also recently announced at the ASU+GSV Summit in San Diego that it is officially offering structured programs and evidence-based practices to help students with speech disabilities progress faster. This new program follows the successful deployment of Dyslexia programs in the first quarter of 2021.

Shapira, Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and has been an executive at several successful startups, took inspiration for the business from his son, who suffers from a severe stutter. “At the age of two, my son, Niv, started to stutter,” Shapira explains. “He had trouble communicating and often avoided speaking.”

It was at a family dinner years later, when a then-teen Niv became frustrated with his stutter and left the table, that Amplio was born. “My mom turned to my wife, Shirley, and me, and said, ‘You’re both biomedical engineers. Can’t you find a way to help Niv stop stuttering? Said Shapira. “Four days later, I quit my job and started building a team of experts.”

Thirty-some million dollars and a company later, Shapira answers her mother’s call to action.

Denise W. Whigham