50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2016

Standard For Success: Where Teacher Evaluation, Expertise & Technology Meet

“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” – John Dewey

Founders’ words: In 2011, Indiana passed a law that required all teachers to be evaluated on an annual basis in line with the national “No Child Left Behind” initiative. In theory, this mandate made sense, but as educators, we asked ourselves, “How are we going to manage this?”

First, we researched and looked online to see if there was a tool that could facilitate the teacher evaluation process digitally, but there wasn’t a solution out there I could recommend to administrators. As a result, in September 2011, I (CEO) reached out virtually to Alan Degener (CTO) to discuss the viability of creating a solution to manage teacher evaluations online.

Within a month, we had a beta platform ready to be tested. Within the first three months, we signed our first client and partnered with the Indiana Association of School Principals to develop a program built on transparency to help make the process simple and meaningful.

Created by educators for educators and founded by Edupreneurs, we wanted to create something that would fill the need for streamlined teacher evaluation and create feedback-rich cultures in schools. Just as a teacher realizes the “teachable” moment, the SFS team understands the importance of having a reliable system to allow staff to have that “teachable” moment and grow professionally. Serving over 850 schools, 140 districts, and 8 states, we provide a higher Standard For Success in education through technology, focused on maximizing student achievement. Standard For Success is where teacher evaluation, expertise, and technology meet.

It is all about “High Standards”
First, Standard For Success’ software is completely customizable, meaning the software fits to the school’s evaluation process instead of the process having to be redesigned to fit the software. It specializes in making the software complement the school’s workflows while also providing the expertise to ensure it’s the best process.

Next, SFS focuses on customer service. With an average response time of 25 minutes during work hours and less than an hour over nights or weekends, we ensure customers get the answers they need quickly and courteously.

Finally, since SFS is built for educators by educators, we understand the challenges associated with teacher evaluation. In coordination with the teacher evaluation software, it also offers a full spectrum of teacher evaluation services to support every step of the process.

Building Effective Evaluation Programs
Standard For Success offers one primary product supported by a variety of services. Its teacher evaluation software enables schools to completely design, customize, and track their teacher evaluation programs while applying the observation rubric of their choosing. With a completely customizable platform, schools have the total flexibility to design it the way they want, and they are able to effectively manage the evaluation process from start to finish.

The Standard For Success services ( include: Educational Evaluation Support, Education Coaching and Training, External Evaluators, Grant Writing, Professional Growth Plan Development, Teacher and Administrator Mentoring, Team Building, and Technology and Instruction Audits. Additionally, we provide services that are supported by our partners, including Online Math Assessment and Online Professional Development.

The Client Aspect
Standard For Success can support any school, no matter what size, where it is, or how its run. Since the technology is completely customizable, it is flexible to the needs of every organization. The big clients include Indianapolis Public Schools (IN), Highline Public Schools (WA), Robbinsdale Area Schools (MN).

“Everything on SFS works as advertised, no disappointments. The utilities and other administrative functions are intuitive and our teaching staff has no problem using the system.”– Mark Sherbondy, Principal at Fremont High School

“The system as a whole is one of the most user friendly computer based programs I have been exposed to as an administrator and VCSC is proud to be a SFS client.” – Greg Parsley, Superintendent at Vincennes Community School

“North Montgomery School Corporation has been fortunate to utilize SFS for teacher evaluation now for 3 years. I certainly recommend the use of SFS to other schools implementing the rigorous evaluation models that comply with Indiana requirements. The responsiveness of SFS tech support is outstanding.” – Dr. Colleen Moran, Superintendent at North Montgomery Community School Corporation

The Future Standards
As Standard for Success looks to the future, the company’s leaders are open to expanding employee evaluation management services beyond the K-12 school arena. There has been recent interest in the product from the business world and health care field. SFS is also developing a software platform for higher education. This includes evaluation of current staff and student teachers in the field. As organizational leaders foster employee growth and development in their specific crafts, a manageable system of feedback and growth planning is key.

Meet the Executive Duo

Todd Whitlock, CEO & Co-Founder: Todd spent 20 years in public education. He served as a classroom teacher, coach, and district administrator overseeing technology, curriculum, testing, and early college programs. Todd was recognized as the TechPoint 2012 Bridge Builder Award Recipient, was the 2008 winner for contributions to K-12 education and was recognized as a National School Board Association (NSBA) “20 to Watch” school leader. As an entrepreneur, Todd has founded or co-founded three companies in the technology and service area during the last 21 years. His passion for helping people motivates him to continue to think outside the box in bringing solutions to Standard For Success clients.

Alan Degener, CTO & Co-Founder: Alan taught 20+ years in Juneau, Alaska in the areas of math and technology education. Alan is also an avid web programmer and is the creator of QuestionPress, an online classroom response tool.