by Mark Carter
Posted 9/1/2014 12:00 am
Updated 2 months ago
Innovate Arkansas, the private/public venture created to nurture tech-based startups in the state, was created by an act of the Arkansas Legislature and began operations in 2007.
One of its client firms, however, stretches the "startup" tag. SEAS Education of Mountain Home has been around since 1995 and quietly has become a leading national provider of education plan management software.
SEAS — Special Education Automation Software — developed its innovative software to help school administrators with paperwork, specifically in the aftermath of the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act of 1990.
The firm employs more than 75 people in its Mountain Home office with sales and customer service representatives spread across offices in 11 states. It serves more than 1,600 school districts representing 200,000 registered users and more than 1 million students.
Founder Harvey Hughes said SEAS serves as an accountability system focused on implementing interventions and tracking progress.
"We organize chaos around academic and behavior improvement plans," he said. "We help implement plans with goals, objectives and interventions for individualized progress. We take any problem where you assess where an individual is currently performing and align it to a level of expectation and then implement strategies to achieve that goal."
Before launching SEAS, Hughes was a systems programmer for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. who left to start his own systems consulting company. One project entailed the design of a tool for teachers and administrators to organize students’ educational planning.
"I created the prototype, it was a huge success, and so I was inspired to focus just on the education market as a business," Hughes said. "By continuously listening to teachers and administrators, I was able to improve the product. After finding great acceptance within Arkansas, we branched out and now work with school districts across the country."
Hughes says SEAS products are designed around "teacher and student needs" rather than what a programmer thinks a teacher may need. That requires SEAS to know what those needs may be.
"Our student progress and accountability software is one of very few systems used by educators in the classroom everyday," he said. "Since we want to be relevant to their needs, we have to be great listeners."
The SEAS suite of products tailors to several specific educational needs and was even expanded to include Medicaid:
- SEAS Achieve 2.0 supports all school district education plan types;
- SEAS Medicaid provides advanced Medicaid reporting services;
- SEAS Partners helps nonverbal children communicate through pictures;
- SEAS Class helps teachers identify student strengths and needs;
- SEAS SmartEval enables school personnel to create and export evaluation and assessment reports; and
- SEAS University is a professional development platform for online delivery of SEAS training and certification.
Hughes said SEAS products are aligned to U.S. Department of Education models for academic progress and can also be used for individualized staff development, career development or any area where "results-driven accountability" is expected.
"You can solve almost any problem in life using this approach, and we learned this from listening to teachers," Hughes said. "Our magic formula is enabling great teachers, equipped with a great system, to make a positive influence in more students' lives."
Growth — specifically the number of students he can reach — is Hughes' main focus.
"It has been a natural transition from helping special-needs students to helping students falling behind and even gifted students," he said. "We are growing because the need is expanding to measuring every student individually based on his or her individual preference and skills for learning."