What’s New in Knewton Alta – May 2020

Wiley is committed to a culture of continuous improvement with Knewton Alta, which is why we are always engaging instructors and students to gather feedback and optimize the learning experience moving forward.

As always, we are very cautious with our product releases to ensure minimal disruption during the semester, while continuing to provide an ever-improving experience for you and your students.

Below you will find information on enhancements made to Knewton Alta during the month of May. If you haven’t looked at Knewton Alta in a while, you’re missing something special.

Improved Student Context and Visibility into Assignment History

This update will help students (and instructors) to better understand their performance on an adaptive assignment and path to mastery, while providing transparency into the type of work that has been completed.

Learn more on how instructors can monitor student progress here.

Learn more about how students can track their own progress here.

Improved Course Copy Functionality

Getting started is now easier than ever!

Our team has been head-down looking for opportunities to make improvements to the course building experience in preparation for Fall. A number of usability improvements have shipped in the past month and we’re topping it off with a boost to copying courses. When copying a Knewton Alta course, instructors now have more options to configure their new course such as setting your institution or changing the dates as they are creating it so you can hit the ground running.

Doubling Down on Grading Accuracy!

A large percentage of Knewton Alta questions are free response, especially in our math courses, and we’ve just released a new update to our answer parsing service to provide better symbolic equivalence checking.

Students submit answers in a variety of complex — but equivalent — formats, and our new parsing engine leverages the active development community around sympy, a python-based computer algebra system, to better catch tricky cases where complex student answers may not appear to match the format that a subject matter expert would use.

Check out the Knewton Blog each month to see the improvements we’ve made to Knewton Alta.

What’s New in Knewton Alta – March 2020

Wiley is committed to a culture of continuous improvement with Knewton Alta, which is why we are always engaging instructors and students to gather feedback and optimize the learning experience moving forward.

We also understand that this is a challenging time for both instructors and students, as many of you are acting quickly to move your courses online. Wiley and the Knewton Alta team have worked to compile a collection of resources and best practices for moving to, and teaching in, an on-line format. You can explore this collection here.

As always, we are very cautious with our product releases to ensure minimal disruption during the semester, while continuing to provide an ever-improving experience for you and your students.

Below you will find information on enhancements made to Knewton Alta during the month of March. If you haven’t looked at Knewton Alta in a while, you’re missing something special.

Instructor Control of Question Order in Assessments

More control over your course and assessments means a more personalized experience.

To get more instruction on creating an assessment, check out this video and guide.


Anticipated Spring Releases

Hey Knerds! Welcome to the future! We are working hard to improve the Knewton Alta experience and wanted to share some of our upcoming planned releases, just to give you a clearer picture of where we are headed.

 Better Visibility

Improved Student Context

The update will help students to better understand their path to mastery and provide transparency into the type of work that has been completed. A select number of instructors will be piloting this semester to provide feedback on what works best. The new experience will be available to all in May, once the semester has concluded.


Currently Being Researched for Future Release

Review Insights to better prepare for quizzes and tests


Check out the Knewton Blog each month to see the improvements we’ve made to Knewton Alta.

4 Challenges Instructors Face to Stay Current in 2020 and Tips to Overcome Them

Teaching Higher Ed in 2020 is no easy task. Consistent change has left many instructors facing an uphill battle to stay current. And while keeping up to date on the latest technology and teaching trends can be difficult enough on its own, it can be even more challenging to actually implement these new ideas in the classroom, with many instructors facing a lack of time, limited colleague and student support, and inadequate resources.

Still, the benefit for both you and your students can far outweigh the effort once you overcome these obstacles. To help get you there faster, below are a few of the most common challenges instructors cite when asked why they wait to change, along with tips to help you overcome these roadblocks when making the move for yourself. 

  1. Lack of time – For most instructors, it’s hard enough to find time for their normal responsibilities, so the thought of adding to those by incorporating new technology or teaching technique can seem overwhelming. Still, as studies show more about the different ways that students learn, it’s important to incorporate those learning where applicable to help give students a better chance at success.

How do you modify your teaching methods without spending hours on prep work?


  1. Lack of training and support within departmental culture – Going hand in hand with a lack of time is a lack of training and colleague support. It can take a lot of time to get yourself up to speed on new technology or new teaching techniques, and when you feel alone in the battle, you’re more likely to give up and stick with what you know. Studies show an instructor whose department does not support a new initiative is less likely to try it themselves. And it’s not just about encouraging faculty members to try it, studies show instructors need to be continually supported as they train for and implement these practices to increase the likelihood of success.

 How do you find training and support to help implement and effectively use new technology and teaching methods in the classroom?


  1. Lack of student engagement – Student engagement is a tough nut to crack. With a diverse classroom of students and a variety of learners, finding the best way to engage with each of your students can be mind-boggling on its own, but throw in using a format they’re not used to, and it can feel like a recipe for disaster. In fact, many instructors avoid new teaching methods—like active learning—because they find students are resistant to it and do not come to class prepared. So, basically, studies show that these new teaching methods are good for students, but what’s the point if they don’t participate?

How do you get students excited about participating in class?


  1. Lack of classroom space and resources – The environment a student learns in can have a big impact on their success. For some students, a large lecture may work, but for others, they need more personalized activities to stay engaged. But when you have a class of 300, how do you effectively utilize things like active learning or provide individualize activities based on your students’ needs? And even when you do have a smaller class, how do you modify the standard, fixed-seating classrooms to better foster student engagement activities?

How do you foster active learning and engage students in both large lectures and small classrooms?


At Knewton we know these challenges can set you back when trying to provide your students with the best education possible. With that in mind, we built our courseware to help you overcome many of the common challenges’ instructors face today. With dedicated training and support, goal focused activities built directly into the courseware, and a studio that allows you to collaborate with fellow instructors anytime, anywhere, Knewton Alta is mastery-based, adaptive courseware that puts achievement within reach for all students and helps you accomplish the goals you never thought possible.

Demo Knewton Alta today and explore the potential.


Knerd Q&A: Meet two of the brains behind Knewton’s latest course – Knewton Alta Calculus

Alta wouldn’t be possible without a masterful group of Knerds taking care of business behind the scenes to provide you with the best product imaginable. To give you a little peek behind the curtain at this imagination station, we met up with two of the Knerds responsible for Knewton Alta Calculus to get the 411 on their love of Knewton, upcoming trends in education technology, and the key features that make this new Calculus course so impressive.

Andrew Jones Greg Hitt
Andrew Jones is a data scientist and Alta product manager with a Ph.D in Music Theory. From analyzing jazz piano recordings to studying student learning patterns, Andrew focuses his time on using mathematical modeling and machine learning to extract patterns from complex data. The resulting algorithms help power our adaptive engine and provide students with individualized learning experiences to help them master complex subjects like Calculus. We can all thank Andrew for those A’s! Greg Hitt (now in his adult years) is a former calculus instructor turned Knerd, who spends his days developing courseware that meets the challenges he and his students faced day after day in his own classroom. Using that background, he has worked on many of the pedagogical interventions behind the student experience, designing everything with an eye towards the idea of assisting students on their path to mastery – whether that be the highly detailed answer explanations, mapping the relationships between sub-learning objectives, or building interactive graphs to explore and learn. He really does love Calculus that much!


1.   You’ve been working in the Higher Education field for a while now. Give us a little overview of your past experience and why you became a Knerd.

AJ: I did my undergrad work in the Princeton physics department, where I specialized in large, noisy datasets at the intersection of particle physics and cosmology. When wrapping up my senior thesis, I decided I liked the tools more than the subject matter—so I earned a Ph.D in Music Theory from Yale, where I applied similar computational modeling approaches to complex musical datasets. That’s where my interest in machine learning really started. When I started looking for meaningful applications of machine learning on the data science market, Knewton seemed like a great chance to apply the skills I already had, learn a bunch of (k)new ones, and stay close to the classroom. I started on the data science team in summer 2017, during the big run-up to Alta’s commercial launch, and I added a product management role in late 2018.

GH: I worked as a teacher at a public high school in Brooklyn, New York, for 6 years. I primarily taught AP Calculus, Physics, and Algebra 2, but at some point or another, I taught every level of math offered. Along with teaching 130 students over 4 different subjects every day, I also built some tooling to help with a schoolwide data initiative. After exams, I could run reports on how my students did on individual learning objectives to help guide them in where they needed to study or what topics I might need to review in my classroom. I could also gather information on how effective my teaching was to improve lesson plans for the following year.

Once I started thinking about using data in this way, and seeing how assessing in a low-stakes way helped students both in terms of focusing their time and also in meta-cognition, I completely shifted my grading schema to a mastery-based classroom. I didn’t penalize students for not getting the content initially but saw testing as a formative experience. If they missed an objective, it informed both myself and them of deficiencies and maybe highlighted prerequisite knowledge gaps that I could address in tutoring during lunch or after school. It really transformed my classroom, but this was a lot of work—so seeing that Knewton was trying to do this exact thing sold me immediately.

2.    Given your history in Higher Education, what do you think makes Knewton Alta different?

AJ: Alta didn’t start from the assumption that a fixed textbook or set of assessment questions should work for everyone. Knewton had been providing personalized, adaptive experiences based on individual student needs for years, but our publishing partners ultimately controlled the pedagogy, user experience, and how our adaptivity fit into their educational products. With Alta, we had the chance to start from scratch and say: if we have this great adaptive engine, what do the learning science and educational data mining literatures tell us would be the most impactful learning experience for students? We came to the conclusion that implementing mastery-based learning in the lowest-cost, most scalable way possible would let us extend the benefits of one-on-one attention and coaching to a huge number of students who otherwise might not have it. Alta’s built on that bedrock: putting achievement within reach for every individual student, especially in classrooms where students come from all kinds of educational and financial backgrounds.

For those heterogeneous classrooms, alta is really the first product to take seriously the idea that you might implement mastery-based learning in a variety of course structures. We have instructors choose what learning objectives students should get great at and by when, and each adaptive assignment starts all students on those target learning objectives. Our proficiency model and recommender then provide as much support as is needed to get students across the finish line as efficiently as possible — whether that’s just some worked answer explanations, or some detailed instruction, or potentially significant prerequisite support, all delivered seamlessly and just-in-time.

3.    Knewton Alta was recently aquired by Wiley, a boutique publisher who has been in the Education Publishing space for quite some time. How has that affected Knewton Alta as a company and the courses you create?

AJ: You say “boutique,” but I was nervous about joining a big publisher! Knewton was like 100 employees for most of my time there. But the results have been great — the Knewton team has remained focused on Alta, and our data science team is starting to expand the reach of our models into other Wiley products, so we’re kind of like an in-house tech company. The cross-pollination has had a big impact; we immediately gained access to a huge amount of high-quality content, and Wiley has been able to start thinking about investing in adaptivity in a totally new way. We think this will speed up the rate and increase the quality with which we can launch new Alta titles.

4.    Knewton Alta Calculus was just launched last week and is the first course coming out after the Wiley acquisition. Can you tell us a little about this course and what makes it special/why people should pay attention?

AJ: The calculus market has been static for a long time—there’s one market-leading textbook that’s been updated many times, but the pedagogy hasn’t really changed. And nobody has been able to come up with a strong adaptive or mastery-based solution in such a complicated subject. Calculus is amazing and elegant and important to a bunch of majors and jobs, but it remains a course where a lot of college students give up on math. We’re excited about Alta Calculus because it’s built to serve everybody and to be capable of more robust, targeted interventions than any previous calculus courseware. By wedding a huge quantity of OER content (most of which is generated in-house thanks to Wiley’s financial support) to these interventions, we’ve built a pedagogical model that we also think will scale to other complex subject areas in the future.

5.    Adaptive technology is a big part of the mastery-based learning system Alta provides. How would you describe the adaptive model that Alta uses?

AJ: Alta’s adaptivity is built on a proficiency model and a recommendations engine. Our proficiency model assesses student knowledge states in real time—after every question a student answers in Alta Calculus, we’re jointly estimating how proficient the student is on the highly granular problem type they answered, on the learning objective more broadly, and on related learning objectives like pre- and post-requisites. Our recommender then makes use of those estimates and our highly parameterized content to choose the best path forward for the student: you can think of it as an encoded pedagogy, making decisions about what kinds of problem, instruction, or remediation would be most impactful at any given time.

6.    Outside of adaptive learning, what are the key features of Alta that you would like instructors to know about?

GH: In my mind, the biggest highlight other than adaptivity is the use of desmos. Desmos as a company has been so focused on great pedagogy from its inception, so being able to harness what they have done to build both assessments and explorations that help students get a more conceptual understanding of topics is something I am very excited about.

7.    And last question. We know you spend a ton of time dedicated to your work, but when you’re not creating adaptive algorithms or programming modules, what do you like to do?

AJ: Well, the music thing never really went away, so I’m an avid record collector and hi-fi enthusiast. My wife and I also have an energetic golden retriever, Lucy, who runs most of my non-work life.

GH: I’m an avid birder [200 species last year!] and have a weird obsession with visiting as many state capitol buildings as I can [just hit 31 with Denver!], so I try to sneak in as many weekend trips as possible to do one or both of those things. My commutes are filled with books and crosswords, and I both play and host trivia.


Want to check out Knewton Alta Calculus first hand? Schedule a demo!

A Message from Wiley

Greetings from Wiley!

I want to personally express my excitement for Wiley’s acquisition of Knewton, which I will be leading.

Let me reassure you that we are integrating Knewton into our Wiley education business and remain 100% committed to you and your students. We will continue  to support Knewton’s Alta and enterprise solutions fully. In fact, we plan to expand the Alta catalog to support more courses, and continue to invest in the platform as well.

It’s important you hear this directly from me – your prices will not change. You will also continue to receive the excellent support you’ve grown accustomed to from Knewton, with additional support from our Wiley team!

Why are we so excited about the Knewton acquisition?

We thank you for your continued support and look forward to becoming part of the Knerd community.

Renée Altier
Vice President and General Manager, Digital Education

Saving Money with Beautiful Soup and Hashing

Back in the summer of 2017, Knewton’s alta images had an expensive problem. Whether the images were of parabolas, molecules, or supply and demand curves, they were all missing two important things: alt text and long descriptions.

Why do our images need alt text and long descriptions?

As part of being ADA Compliant, alta’s images need alt text and long descriptions to make the images accessible to screen readers. This is important so that our blind or visually impaired students can use assistive technology like screen readers to interact with our visual content.

An accessible image needs alternative text (alt text) and possibly also a long description, which the screen reader can read out to the user. Alternative text is typically brief (we limit ours to 255 characters) and should always be included on accessible images. Long descriptions are used to describe more complex images, like a detailed diagram.

Alt text and long descriptions are added to images via HTML attributes. Here’s an example image:

Fluffy gray cat belonging to a coworker.

Let’s say that the HTML tag for this image is:

<img src="cat.jpg" alt="Fluffy gray cat" longdesc="cat.html"/>

By including alt and longdesc attributes in the image tag, screen readers can read out “Fluffy gray cat” and the contents of cat.html to the user.

The idea is that a visually impaired student can get all the information they need about an image via its alt text and long description. Take this image for example:

This figure shows two curves. The first curve is marked in blue and passes through the points (negative 1, 2), (0, 1), and (1, 1 over 2). The second curve is marked in red and passes through the points (negative 1, 3), (0, 1), and (1, 1 over 3). Attribution: Image by OpenStax Intermediate Algebra is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Download for free here.

This image’s alt text is very specific:

This figure shows two curves. The first curve is marked in blue and passes through the points (negative 1, 2), (0, 1), and (1, 1 over 2). The second curve is marked in red and passes through the points (negative 1, 3), (0, 1), and (1, 1 over 3).

(Note: Due to limitations there are no alt text and long descriptions for images in this blog post, but we’ve included image captions as an alternative for screen readers.)

Unsurprisingly, writing alt text and long descriptions for thousands of images gets expensive fast. If there were only a way for us to not start from scratch…

Scrape OpenStax, save money

A good chunk of Knewton’s content is curated from the open source OpenStax textbooks.

Greg, our Senior Manager of Content, was staring at OpenStax textbooks online — as senior managers of content are wont to do — when it hit him: OpenStax includes alt text with their images. We could scrape out alt text from OpenStax and match them with the images used in our courses! To Greg, this sounded like an ideal Hack Day project.

Knewton holds “Hack Days” a few times a year, in which Knerds (the Knewton employees) get to work on whatever project we wanted. For the August 2017 Hack Day, Greg and I teamed up to make his OpenStax-scraping, money-saving dream happen. Our solution had two steps:

  1. Scrape OpenStax textbooks for images and their associated alt text.
  2. Associate the scraped alt text with their images in our content management system’s database.

Finding images with Beautiful Soup

Conveniently, each OpenStax textbook has a downloadable zip, containing all of the textbook’s HTML and image files.

I wrote a Python script to walk through all the directories of the unzipped book, looking for HTML files. Then it became a straightforward application of Beautiful Soup, a popular Python HTML parser.

>>> import codecs
>>> from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
# file_path is an HTML file's path
>>> page = codecs.open(file_path, 'r', 'utf-8')
>>> soup = BeautifulSoup(page.read(), 'html.parser')
>>> image_tags = soup.find_all('img')

Notice how simple it is to find all img tags. Once I got the HTML content, I just needed two lines:

  1. Create a “soup” using the HTML.
  2. Use the soup’s find_all method.

For each tag in image_tags, Beautiful Soup makes it easy to extract the altand src attributes.

>>> tag
<img alt="Cute puppy" src="puppy.jpg"/>
>>> tag['alt']
'Cute puppy'
>>> tag['src']

The alt attribute contains, well, the alt text. The src attribute contains the file path to the image, which will be used in the next section.

Matching up images with hashing

Now that I have scraped all the alt text in an OpenStax book, I need to match them up with images in our content management system (CMS). This is where hashing comes in: two identical images have the same hash, while two different images have different hashes. If an alt text’s corresponding OpenStax image has a hash that matches the hash of an image in our CMS, then we can apply that alt text to that image in the CMS.

In Python, hashing an image is a matter of using the image’s file path (which was scraped with Beautiful Soup) to read the image’s bytes, and then feeding the bytes into one of Python’s built-in hashing algorithms.

>>> import hashlib
>>> with open(image_path, 'rb') as image:
...     image_bytes = image.read()
>>> hashlib.sha1(image_bytes).hexdigest()

That hash there is of this image below. Try hashing it yourself with the same hashing algorithm and you should see the same result. (This is assuming that the image’s compression has not changed since this post’s publishing.)

Cartoon illustration of a laptop.

What about the long descriptions?

You’ll notice that I glossed over long descriptions in the last few sections. Did we scrape for that at all? Yes and no. OpenStax image tags do not have longdesc attributes. However, we did end up repurposing many OpenStax alt texts as long descriptions because they were so detailed and, well, long.

We also did not use every OpenStax alt text verbatim, as our team of subject matter experts sometimes improved upon them or shortened them to fit within our 255 character limit.

How much money did we save?

We haven’t calculated exactly how much money we saved (we’ve been busy building out alta instead 😉). But if we do a back-of-the-envelope calculation:

Therefore, thousands of images times tens of dollars per image equals tens of thousands of dollars saved! Not too shabby for a hack day project that I coded in a day.

The New Chalk: How Machine Learning Can Benefit Higher Education

Machine learning, AI and other algorithmic technologies have long promised to enhance the learning experience for college instructors and students.

But what can these technologies actually deliver? What’s required to implement them effectively? And how can they operate in a way that’s both equitable and transparent?

Andrew Jones, a data scientist here at Knewton, joined a panel discussion hosted by EdSurge this week in NYC that sought to answer some of these questions.

The panel, which included a group of educators and education technologists, covered a range of issues, including how machine learning technologies are perceived by students, specific areas where machine learning can make an impact on learning, and the barriers that must be overcome for this technology to be implemented successfully.

When asked to suggest the tough questions that instructors should ask before implementing machine learning technologies in their classroom, Andrew urged instructors to push for greater transparency into how a company’s algorithms work. “Asking what is being optimized for, and why, can give you a sense of [whether a tool] is focused on student outcomes, or whether it is about getting a prediction that’s right more often,” he said.

Toward the end of the session, the focus shifted to instructors themselves — and the role they will play in courses that increasingly feature machine learning technologies, such as virtual assistants

Andrew underscored the central role of the instructor, saying: “I’d rather see machine learning reach the level of chalk.”

You can find a full recap of the event over on EdSurge.

Connecting our Knerds: Day of Knerdvocate Collaboration

Earlier this summer, Knewton hosted its first national Knerd Camp, bringing together adopters from across the country to discuss all things alta with our staff knerds.

Knewton’s “knerdvocates” played a key role in making the meeting a success. Knerdvocates are educators who use alta to drive student success in their own courses and help others do the same in theirs through peer coaching, best practices, and thought leadership.

During the 2-day Knerd Camp, instructors were able to experience the day in the life of a Knewton Knerd in New York City. Sharing Knewton’s vision of “putting achievement in reach for everyone,” attendees discussed their teaching challenges, offered advice, and collaborated with each other and staff Knerds on even better ways to help students using alta. They also got the behind-the-scenes view into the data science behind alta, and enjoyed a preview of the newly enhanced interface with the Knewton team of technology product developers, data scientists, and support team.

Instructor, Shawn Shields commented, “I really learned a lot from this event in terms of how it works and hearing others’ experiences and best practices. I ended up with quite a few good ideas from others that I can modify and add to my course,confirming how important it is to give educators opportunities for peer-to-peer coaching in a comfortable, positive setting.

Passion was also a recurring theme, with Knerdvocates becoming inspired by the passion of the Knerd learning community–”I loved the opportunity to talk with the Knerds who were so passionate about what they do…{….}. the Knerds genuinely care about what they do. You can’t fake that kind of passion and dedication,” indicated instructor, Melanie Yosko

Knerd Camp was rounded out with a cruise on the Hudson to visit New York City’s famous trademarks and dinner at the suitably named tapas restaurant, alta.

Building on the success of our first national Knerd Camp, Knewton is planning to expand the program with a series of regional Knerd Camps for instructors who are interested in learning more about alta. Keep your eyes open for one in your area.


Knewton secures $25 million in funding, fueling company’s efforts to put achievement in reach for all learners with Alta

TriplePoint Capital joins company’s existing investors in providing funding to accelerate the growth of Alta

NEW YORK, August 21, 2018 — Knewton, the world’s leader in adaptive learning products and technologies, has closed its latest financing round, which includes up to $25 million in capital. Knewton plans to use the funding to scale Alta, the company’s adaptive learning courseware for higher education, which has established strong momentum since its debut in the U.S. market in January 2018.

The financing round is led by TriplePoint Capital with a debt facility of up to $20 million. Knewton’s existing investors — which include Accel, Atomico, Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, First Round Capital, Founders Fund and Sofina — invested an additional $5 million.

“Knewton’s adaptive learning platform has long been the envy of the ed-tech industry. By putting it directly in the hands of students and instructors with Alta, we’ve figured out how we can make the biggest impact on improving student outcomes,” said Brian Kibby, CEO of Knewton. “With this investment, we will bring Alta to scale while developing new ways of using our technology to enable true data-driven teaching and learning throughout the course experience.”

“What Knewton has accomplished with Alta in less than eight months is remarkable. We’re excited to support Knewton’s effort to put Alta into the hands of every college student in the U.S.,” said Jim Labe, CEO of TriplePoint Capital.

Higher ed instructors are making the switch to Alta

Since its launch in January 2018, Alta has received an overwhelmingly positive response from instructors in the U.S. higher education market, with many instructors opting to choose Alta’s combination of dynamic adaptivity and unparalleled insights into student performance, and high quality, openly available expertly-developed content over traditional textbook and digital homework offerings.

Alta delivers a personalized learning experience for students by harnessing the power of Knewton’s adaptive learning technology. In 2017, Knewton invested in making Alta accessible to all learners, achieving WCAG 2.0 AA-level ADA compliance across Alta’s technology, content and user experience. By leveraging high quality, openly available content, Knewton is able to offer Alta to students for only $44 per course.

Knewton expects that more than 250 colleges and universities will be using Alta during the Fall 2018 term.

“I chose Alta because it levels the playing field for students. It provides support so that I can engage all students in the classroom,” said Donna Jean, associate professor of chemistry, Park University. “If a student is struggling with mathematical problems, Alta quickly diagnoses that and presents the student with instruction geared towards those knowledge gaps.”

“Alta is the first personalized learning system I’ve used that truly delivers on the promise of adaptive technology by continually measuring students’ proficiency levels and providing feedback designed to help them achieve mastery,” said Andrew Moore, department chair and assistant professor of mathematics at National Louis University. “With Alta, students don’t have to wait for their next diagnostic or for me to provide them with that feedback — they receive it immediately.”

For the Fall 2018 term, Knewton will offer 36 Alta products in courses across mathematics, economics, chemistry and statistics, including seven products developed exclusively to support math corequisite curriculum redesign initiatives.

For students, alta delivers learning that lasts

Alta is designed to help students master the learning objectives covered in their course.

To measure Alta’s impact on mastery, Knewton analyzed the results of more than 10,000 students who used Alta in 2017. The findings revealed:

As part of Knewton’s commitment to transparency regarding Alta’s effectiveness, the company is collaborating with Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Research and Reform to measure the effectiveness of Alta in helping students achieve mastery. Knewton plans to release the findings of Johns Hopkins University — which were developed independently of Knewton’s own analysis presented above — in the months ahead.


About Knewton

Knewton puts achievement within reach for everyone through adaptive learning technology and products that deliver personalized and lasting learning experiences. Educators, schools and universities, and education companies around the world use Knewton to power and provide digital courses that dynamically adapt to each student’s unique needs. More than 15 million students around the world have used Knewton-powered courses to date. Knewton was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in New York City.

About Triple Point Capital

TriplePoint Capital is a Sand Hill Road-based global financing provider to high growth venture capital-backed companies throughout their lifespan, providing customized debt financing, leasing and direct equity investments. TriplePoint provides unparalleled levels of creativity, flexibility and customer service to serve as the primary debt financing provider for leading venture capital-backed companies in the technology, cleantech and life sciences sectors and is the only debt provider equipped to meet the unique needs of high growth venture-backed companies at every stage of their development. For more information, visit www.triplepointcapital.com.

Media Contact


(415) 323-0850


Celebrating National Higher Education Day at Knewton

Today, we’re excited to celebrate National Higher Education Day.

What is #NationalHigherEducationDay, you ask? Let us tell you!

Celebrated annually on June 6, it’s a day to champion the value of higher education — and to acknowledge all of the hard work that must be done to make sure everyone can share in it.

The Value of Higher Education – National Higher Education Day

The value of a college education

College not only provides students with a life-changing experience that will broaden their perspective and deepen their understanding of the world around us, it’s also the surest path to a better life. Over the course of their careers, a college degree is worth $2.8 million.1

This is more than just some extra spending money in your bank account. It’s the type of financial security that allows you to pursue a career in a field you’re passionate about or move forward with a Major Life Decision.

Despite all of this, only 61% of college students think that a college offers a good value, according to a recent Student Monitor report.2

To understand why, we’d like to use National Higher Education Day as cause to look at three of higher ed’s biggest challenges — and think about how we can work together to solve them.

Improving student outcomes

A college education provides students with a number of benefits. But sometimes it’s helpful to remember that students will only be able to realize these benefits if they complete their courses and go on to graduate.

Unfortunately, fewer than 6 in 10 students who enter college go on to graduate.3 Fewer still will graduate on-time.

Poorer students experience the lowest graduation rates. The graduation rate of college students born in the 1980s and who are from lower-income families is 11.8%. Among students from middle-income families, the graduation rate is 32.5%. For students from higher-income families, the graduation rate jumps to 60.1%.4

There are many reasons for higher education’s low graduation rates, but none is bigger than the fact that too many students arrive on campus unprepared for the academic rigor of college. 52% of 2-year college students require remediation in math5; however, only around half the students enrolled in remedial math courses go on to complete them.6

As we see it, the biggest opportunity to improve on-time graduate rates is to help students who aren’t prepared for college — particularly in math — get up to speed quickly.

Making learning accessible to all

It’s often said that education is our society’s great equalizer. But what if not everyone has the same access to higher education?

11% of undergraduate students — nearly 2 million in total — have diagnosed disabilities.7 These students are faced with a number of challenges, not the least of which is course materials that aren’t fully ADA compliant. This doesn’t include students who have undiagnosed disabilities in college, when students often have to self report that they are learning disabled.

These challenges add up to make a big impact. About one-third of students with disabilities who are enrolled at a 4-year institution graduate within 8 years. At 2-year institutions, that number is slightly higher, at 41%.8

Improving the learning experience for students with disabilities is a complex issue. But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that course materials that are fully ADA compliant should become the norm.


College provides an incredible value to students. But it’s still expensive.

$1.5 trillion in total U.S. student debt.9 An average debt of more than $39K for the Class of 2017.10 These numbers can be so big that they almost seem to lose meaning.

But for students, their impact is very real.

According to Student Monitor, financial strain accounts for 2 of students’ top 5 concerns.11 And, according to a survey released by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, 36% of students do not get enough to eat, and a similar number lack a secure place to live.12

We have a shared obligation to make college more affordable, without compromising outcomes or accessibility.

Putting achievement within reach with alta

We built alta, Knewton’s fully integrated adaptive learning courseware, with higher education’s biggest challenges in mind.

Alta combines Knewton’s adaptive learning technology with high-quality openly available content to help students achieve mastery. Alta is accessible to all learners: its technology, content and user experience are all WCAG 2.0 AA-level ADA compliant. At $44 for 2-year access, it’s also affordable.

Solving higher education’s biggest challenges won’t happen overnight, but if we are to reaffirm the value of college for all learners, we must never lose sight of them.

What else needs to be done to improve higher education? What more can we be doing to help? Hit us up on social and tag your post with #NationalHigherEd day.


  1. Georgetown University: The College Payoff
  2. Student Monitor: Lifestyle & Media – Spring 2018
  3. National Student Clearinghouse Research Center: Signature 14 Completing College: A National View of Student Completion Rates – Fall 2011 Cohort
  4. University of Michigan: Growing Wealth Gaps in Education
  5. Complete College America: Data dashboard
  6. National Center for Education Statistics: Remedial Coursetaking at U.S. Public 2- and 4-Year Institutions
  7. National Center for Education Statistics: Fast facts
  8. National Center for Special Education Research: The Post-High School Outcomes of Young Adults With Disabilities up to 6 Years After High School
  9. Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit
  10. Data provided by Mark Kantrowitz to studentloanhero.com
  11. Student Monitor: Lifestyle & Media – Spring 2018
  12. Wisconsin HOPE Lab: Still Hungry and Homeless in College