Meeting Developmental Psychology and Assessment Technology

I’m Tammy, co-founder and CEO of Cognitive ToyBox, and I am thrilled to be a Stern Venture Fellow this summer. Cognitive ToyBox is a combination of my two interests in developmental psychology and technology, and I feel so fortunate that I get to do what I love every day.

I started the company with my co-founder, Dr. Brenden Lake, to bridge the gap between cutting-edge research done in academic labs and early childhood technology products. There are 80,000+ apps for children marketed as “educational,” but most are nothing more than digital candy. At the same time, there is immense potential in using technology to support early learning, if implemented in the right way. Our mission is to develop research-backed technology that can most effectively support early childhood development.

Through conversations with hundreds of early educators, parents, children, pediatricians and other stakeholders, we learned that one of the biggest pain points in early childhood education is around assessment. Currently, observation-based assessment is the most prevalent approach in Head Start and state-funded Pre-K programs. However, it is also the most burdensome for teachers, who spend 4-6 hours per week writing notes on student development, transcribing the notes into an assessment system, and then scanning for patterns within the anecdotes to guide instruction. Through technology, we know that we can not only make assessment easier for early childhood educators, but also provide more actionable data to improve childhood outcomes, especially for the most vulnerable children.

We have had the opportunity to successfully pilot our assessment technology with some of the most innovative early childhood organizations and districts. This summer, my goal is to better understand the needs of larger school districts. To do this, I will be visiting district leaders around the country to learn more about their challenges and see how our platform can best support them.

Speaking of traveling, I am already counting down the days until our Silicon Valley immersion week in July. I am excited to spend the week with David Ko, the SVF team and the rest of the cohort to learn more about the CA fundraising landscape. Until next time!

Tammy Kwan of Cognitive ToyBox