Follett Acquires ClassBook

Deal to create ‘best-in-class solution for private and parochial schools’

McHENRY, Ill., and CASTLETON, N.Y.,–Follett announced today it has acquired ClassBook, one of the K-12 education industry’s leaders in customized online bookstores that serve schools, teachers, parents, and students. Founded in 1992 and based near Albany, N.Y.,ClassBook provides private and parochial schools with 24/7 bookstores, streamlining and personalizing the ordering and fulfillment process for print and digital textbooks.

The acquisition combines Follett’s deep publisher relationships, vast infrastructure, and resources with ClassBook’s market-changing digital services, with the combined entity steadfast in its focus on delivering renowned, high-touch customer service. Follett accesses, curates and delivers content to schools from a network of more than 7,000 publishers and education-service providers. ClassBook is the industry leader in providing and managing access to eBooks and eTextbooks through proprietary digital tools, including the “Virtual Backpack” app, which allows students to manage access through a single virtual bookshelf.

The companies are in the process of developing strategies and fully merging systems with designs on introducing more dynamic, customer-driven offerings timed with the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. Collectively, Follett Virtual Campus (Follett’s online-only bookstore division that primarily services the private and parochial market) and ClassBook will manage approximately 400 virtual store accounts.

“Acquiring ClassBook allows us to provide a best-in-class solution for private and parochial schools, a market that is important to us and has unique needs,” said Nader Qaimari, Executive Vice President, Follett Corporation, and General Manager, Follett School Solutions. “As education partners tothese schools, we can enhance access to affordable course materials for their students, help improve efficiency, save on overhead, and allow them to provide access to the print and digital content their students need.”

In addition to the Virtual Backpack app, other key benefits Follett Virtual Campus customers will see with the integration of ClassBook include a significantly expanded library of digital content, and more streamlined buy-back processes.

ClassBook CEO Anthony Pfister recalled his company’s humble beginnings in 1992 and how it has dramatically grown to include some of the country’s highest profile schools among its customer base.

“We are grateful for the relationships we have cultivated over the years with our partner schools,” said Pfister, co-owner along with his sister, Christie Gildart. “Our accomplishments are a direct result of the trust provided to us by our schools, which has allowed us to successfully serve the parents and students. Yet we also know to take the next big steps forward, we needed the involvement of a widely respected education company such as Follett. We are excited about the future, what Follett brings to the table, and know that together we will take great care of our loyal and passionate customers.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, officials from both companies said.

For more information about Follett, visit; for more information about ClassBook, visit


More Confident Writers; Students Revise More and Improve Their Essays with New Technology from Turnitin

Pilot study confirms Revision Assistant demonstrates effectiveness in helping middle and high school students improve writing performance.


OAKLAND, Calif. – February 23, 2016 – One evening last spring when eighth grade English teacher, Chelsea Kordecki, put down her last student’s essay, she smiled. She had just finished pilot testing a new instructional product from Turnitin that promised students would revise more often and write better essays. The product, Revision Assistant, had delivered and Mrs. Kordecki was pleased to see that it had delivered in a big way.


Students in Mrs. Kordecki’s classes at Riverside Middle School in Pennsylvania wrote longer essays that were noticeably better. She found that using the program had helped students develop “a brand new confidence.” She said, “Using Revision Assistant definitely boosted their self-esteem.”  In a newly released Turnitin pilot study on Revision Assistant’s effectiveness, results from Mrs. Kordecki’s classes were consistent across all classes participating in the study. Click to Tweet.


Revision Assistant is an instructional writing tool for middle and high schools giving immediate and actionable feedback in the form of Signal Checks to students while they write. The spring 2015 pilot test evaluated Revision Assistant’s effectiveness in inspiring students to write, revise and improve their essays. In all, more than 3,400 students and 164 teachers from 18 schools participated in the pilot. A summary of the results found:


  • On average, middle school students wrote eleven drafts before submitting their final essay and 93 percent revised at least one time.
  • On average, high school students wrote seven drafts before submitting their final essay and 94.4 percent revised at least one time.
  • Essays of middle school students initially averaging 178 words grew to 262 words after using Revision Assistant.
  • Based on a trait-based, 1-4 rubric scale comprised of four genre-specific traits, initial average signal checks for middle school students before using Revision Assistant was 2.02 which increased to 2.48 by the fifth draft; and then 2.99 by the final submission.


According to Elijah Mayfield, the Turnitin VP of New Technologies who developed the product, the actionable feedback Revision Assistant gives mirrors what takes place in the classroom by design. “The type of feedback Revision Assistant gives is motivational and specific in where a student can improve. In other words, the feedback is exactly like the feedback a teacher would give with the added bonus of being immediate,” added Mayfield. Watch a conversation with Mayfield on effective feedback here:


Teachers agree that the immediacy of feedback, given in-line and attached to the specific highlighted sentence, motivates students to keep rewriting and improving with each draft.


“That idea that clicking the signal check would highlight some particular sentence that needed work led students to read over their work, instantly trying to make it better in a way that they could never accomplish with my assistance alone. It was a real extension of my reach.” said TC Niemann, 6-12 grade English teacher at Hostos Lincoln Academy, in NYC South Bronx.


“My students responded to Revision Assistant in a way I had never anticipated,” said Mrs. Kordecki. “Getting students to revise, in a meaningful way not just correcting punctuation and grammar, is perhaps the most difficult part of my teaching.”


See more video interviews with teachers and students talking about Revision Assistant here:


About Turnitin

Turnitin is revolutionizing the experience of writing to learn. Turnitin’s formative feedback and originality checking services promote critical thinking, ensure academic integrity and help students improve their writing. Turnitin provides instructors with the tools to engage students in the writing process, provide personalized feedback, and assess student progress over time. Turnitin is used by more than 26 million students at 15,000 institutions in 140 countries. Backed by Insight Venture Partners, GIC, Norwest Venture Partners, Lead Edge Capital and Georgian Partners, Turnitin is headquartered in Oakland, Calif., with international offices in Newcastle, U.K., Utrecht, Netherlands and Melbourne, Australia.


West’s SchoolMessenger Launches TCPA Resource Center to Help Schools Navigate Federal Requirements


Clearinghouse from trusted K-12 communications provider features exclusive white paper and webinar, plus key FCC documents


SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif., Feb., 23, 2016— West Corporation’s trusted platform for school community engagement, SchoolMessenger today announced the creation of a web-based clearinghouse of materials designed to help school districts improve their understanding of, and compliance with, updated federal regulations for when they communicate with parents.

The new TCPA Resource Center fulfills demand by schools for more information about new guidance from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on its rules regarding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). TCPA generally forbids calls made using automated dialing systems to any telephone number assigned to a mobile phone without prior express consent (or opt-in). The FCC treats an SMS text message in the same way as a voice call. There are exceptions for calls and texts made for “emergency purposes.”

To assist customers of the SchoolMessenger Communicate notification system – as well as those using other notification products – the TCPA Resource Center initially includes:

  • “A Guide to Understanding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Best Practices for School Communications,” a new white paper for considering the TCPA in the context of overall school-to-home communications;
  • A video archive of “Best Practices in School-Parent Communications Under TCPA,” an hour-long webinar jointly conducted with the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) with communications tips and Q&A;
  • The full TCPA Omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order issued by the FCC in mid-2015 to clarify provisions of the 1991 law, and the FCC’s own summary of TCPA rules, both to help schools understand the legal aspects more completely.

More resources will be added as they are developed. All of the materials in the TCPA Resource Center are available free of charge to K-12 school district leadership and staff.

“The clarification of the rules surrounding TCPA gives school districts an opportunity to take a fresh look at the mix of parent communication tools at their disposal, from automated voice calls and SMS text messages to email, websites, social media, and mobile app push notifications,” said Nate Brogan, senior vice president. “We’re committed to helping all districts better understand their options under TCPA so they can continue to deliver effective communications to parents, guardians and the broader school community.”

TCPA-related materials provided by SchoolMessenger are not intended to and do not provide legal advice. Schools are advised to consult with their legal counsel to best understand their options under the law.

SchoolMessenger Communicate, the flagship notification product, includes several tools to help districts manage opt-ins, opt-outs, and changing contact preferences of parents and others with whom schools regularly communicate.

To access the TCPA Resource Center, visit

About SchoolMessenger

SchoolMessenger products, part of West Corporation, are K-12’s most-trusted communications solutions. Thousands of schools and other educational institutions in all 50 U.S. states and Canada depend on SchoolMessenger products and services. From notifications and websites to custom mobile apps and social media, school leaders have relied on the SchoolMessenger platform since 1999 to engage with their communities in multiple languages and on any device. To learn more about SchoolMessenger, or call 888.527.5225.