Educational nonprofit makes software for schools

Educational nonprofit makes software for schools

0511_Tactics_01By Ben Jacklet // Photos by Lynn Howlett

When Matt Chapman took over as president and CEO of the Northwest Evaluation Association in December 2006, he had no experience in running an educational nonprofit of any size, much less one growing by 22% per year.

What he did have was deep experience in running a large, complex technology business. The company he ran for 13 years, CFI, developed the killer app of the banking industry, creating loan documentation designed to adapt to the characteristics of each specific loan. The nonprofit he now runs, NWEA, developed the killer app of the computer adaptive testing world, building tests that change as the student takes them, becoming more difficult in response to correct answers and easier in response to wrong answers.

Chapman, 60, took the job on the hunch that the same principles for strategic growth would apply to both organizations.

He was right. During his tenure at NWEA, revenue has grown from $26 million to $72 million. The workforce has grown from 180 to 412 people. More than 5 million children use NWEA software to learn.