FastBridge Learning CEO Terri Soutor
It’s merely been a few months since Terri Soutor took the lead on edutech startup FastBridge Learning, a spinout venture based on University of Minnesota research. Commercialized this spring, she joined in June, and the new company will hit the ground running this school year.
“I was incredibly intrigued by the model,” says the industry vet, who came from Brain Hive (division of Lerner Education), who she was with since 2009. Prior to that, Soutor was a VP of Marketing at PLATO Learning (now Edmentum) for five years.
“This is an area I’ve been passionate about my entire career, and when I discovered the research behind FastBridge, I knew this was my next calling…something I had to be a part of.”
The typical K-12 teacher in the US is managing about 30 students per class, and each one of those naturally has a different skill set on top of the social, emotional and behavioral aspects of their personality. Fastbridge makes an assessment software for these teachers that focuses foremost on the students reading and math abilities during the early years, K-6.
The Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST) — where the name and research comes from — is based off a combination of multi-course and multi-modal measurement.
FastBridge is delivered to a classroom either as a computer adaptive test, or one to one offline, which generates questions based on a students live performance. Ultimately, teachers can individually screen, measure and monitor their students progress in specific areas over time using both methods for best results.
“Our tools empower teachers with better data in real time to help them make informed instructional decisions that correlate to positive learning outcomes,” Soutor says regarding the mission. “Based on students skills and gaps, we essentially remove the guesswork and provide teachers with efficacy, and how they could improve it.”
The venture stems from 8+ years of R&D inside the University’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD); with $8m-$10m in grant funding behind it, the product came to Soutor fully developed, including 2+ years of implementation in the State of Iowa, where it’s already used across 92% of schools.
FastBridge has 11 full time employees and has hired another 12 contractors in preparation for growth phase. Soutor says the company plans to top 5 million assessments this year across 30 states, and already has revenue.
“My job here is to scale the company, displace the competition, and help improve education in America,” she concludes.