2021 Newsmaker: John Sorensen

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John Sorensen

Co-founder

Student Achievement Systems/Pulse

Long before an unprecedented rise in home-based learning caused by the pandemic, John Sorensen co-founded Student Achievement Systems (SAS) in 2017 after recognizing the difficult task educators experienced as they attempted to monitor the progress of all students during a virtual class.

In 2021, SAS was awarded a $15,000 Business Accelerator Fund grant through Michigan State University’s Gateway Grand Rapids and the Small Business Development Center of Michigan after creating a licensed, cloud-based software solution called Pulse, which replicates an in-person classroom where a teacher is standing in the front looking out to see which students are completing a task and which aren’t.

“We take snapshots on a moment-by-moment basis, day-by-day basis,” Sorensen said. “We can tell a teacher about a student who has been doing great for the past couple of weeks (and then) they just dropped off the edge of a cliff — just stopped doing work altogether. Most of the learning systems that are out there do not have the ability to tell you that something has gone wrong, they can only tell you their progress in a course. We can tell you if students have stopped doing work. We can tell you if a student is rushing to do something or rushing to make something up. So, it really gives teachers an enormous amount of data on a moment-by-moment basis.”

By June 2021, Pulse was used for hybrid and cyber classes offered in Grand Rapids, Belding, Muskegon, Kenowa Hills, Berrien Springs and Benton Harbor and collectively monitored more than 6,000 students and teachers.

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