The early observation of learning disabilities in children is essential. Stefan Bauer, cofounder, and CEO of the online testing platform Marker Learning, speaks from his own experience. “I struggled in school,” Bauer says to Forbes. “I recollected sitting next to my brother in these notable classes thinking, what is going on?’ Teachers updated my parents we would be lucky to graduate high school.” Bauer and Marker’s other cofounder, chief marketing and product chief executive officer Emily Yudofsky, who also struggled at school, we’re blessed that their parents did not believe the dire forecasts. Instead, they had their kids examined privately. When they were diagnosed with dyslexia, the two Yudofsky and Bauer did well at school and continued pursuing Yale studies.
A few families can’t afford this type of intervention, but. Insurance plans typically don’t provide education-related assessments that can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 per test. The Marker cofounders realize that their lives could have been a different story without their parents’ help and financial support. “Countless times, I think ‘ohm,y god what would have happened if my parents couldn’t have paid for my testing or tutors?'” Yudofsky writes in the magazine Forbes. Schools are required under federal law to examine students who have issues in learning, such as dyslexia ADHD as well as anxiety, and many more. However, the system is based on accessibility and equity. Bauer and Yudofsky established Marker to collaborate with parents and schools to make these exams more accessible.
The five-month-old startup has raised the sum of $4 million in a seed round, which was initially announced in Midas Touch Newsletter to expand its licensed professionals’ network and finance expansion into new states. It’s currently in use in seven states. States comprising New York, Florida, and New Jersey were fast adopters. The round was financed with Divergent Ventures Operator Partners and Primary Ventures, as well as others. Jason Shuman, a partner at Primary The company, says it immediately resonated with him since the two of his brothers were subjected to regular tests through their entire childhood. “About twenty percent of kids within the U.S. have a learning impairment, and 4 percent of children being diagnosed? This disparity is shocking to me and is truly inexplicably wrong,” he says. “These kids deserve better, and the only way to do it is to approach it through the use of technology with a company like Marker.”
The company based in New York offers diagnosing learning disabilities online and is identical to the test in person costing $799. Schools are charged when the test is completed. Children are connected to a psychologist licensed by the state and take the test over two days remotely. Marker provides them with everything they require and a camera so that psychologists can monitor the student’s hands as they take the test. The psychologists then meet with parents and discuss the possibility of a diagnosis and assist them in creating an individualized education program (IEP) should it be required. Marker makes it much easier for psychologists to participate because its technology assists in automatizing parts of the long reporting process, which reduces the workload on psychologists. The outreach to schools has been a success.
The demand for this test is immense and is growing. Bauer says. And, after the initial diagnosis, kids continue to be re-evaluated every three years following. Bauer states that, with Covid-19 being a significant cause of mental health crisis among children, school psychologists are faced with a shorter time frame to administer these tests. In addition, the mix of hybrid schools and families refusing to participate in individual learning makes the tests more difficult to access. Marker hopes to make that change. “In the long run, this company will be the advocate for children across America,” Shuman states. “Everything from evaluations to therapy to advocacy or tutoring, all the things that you need, you will have a belief in brand to go to in an [more] affordable way.”