CHARLOTTE – The edtech startup Ascend has been acquired by Aperture Education in a deal announced this week.

The startup, which rebranded in 2020, creates goal-based student engagement software, which Aperture Education plans to integrate with its current offerings as it bolsters social-emotional learning programs for high-school age students, according to a statement.  Aperture Education, which is also based in the Charlotte metropolitan area, though across state lines in Fort Mill, South Carolina, developed the DESSA, a well-regarded assessment of a student’s social-emotional learning skills, and now serves nearly 1 million students and 42,000 educators in nearly 500 school districts.

“Aperture is a leader in the SEL assessment industry because of its foundation in research-based tools and together Aperture and Ascend provide a one-stop-shop for SEL assessment, reporting, and strategies for high schools and out-of-school time organizations,” said Christine Nicodemus, co-founder and COO of Ascend.  “By having reliable data and understanding students’ personal goals, program administrators can make better decisions about their high school SEL programs, how best to support those students and find creative new ways to engage with them.”

Aperture Education CEO Jessica Adamson told Charlotte Inno that the acquisition made sense, noting that each company’s mission aligned with the other, and that each company had something to offer the other that it didn’t have on its own, so a complete platform integration would likely allow further expansion and result in serving more clients.

The two companies had already collaborated together.

The acquisition was made in February, but announced this week.  Financial terms of the deal were not released.

“We’re drinking from a firehose,” Adamson told Charlotte Inno. “The acquisition has really allowed us to ramp up our ability to serve the market.”

“I don’t think it would’ve been possible for us to respond the way we have been able to, if not for the acquisition,” she added.

Aperture now has 40 full-time employees–78% of its staff are women, including three of four executives– and is looking to hire up to seven more positions, Adamson told Charlotte Inno.