Meet Chief Product Officer Jennifer Harris
Recently we sat down for a discussion with Jennifer Harris, 95 Percent Group's Chief Product Officer. She discussed her vision for the company's One95™ Literacy Ecosystem, what her must haves are for product design, and what drives her work every day. Read on to learn why a literacy ecosystem matters, and how it’s poised to improve the literacy crisis in our country.
What drew you to the 95 Percent Group?
I have a background in product development in the early literary space, both in educational publishing and technology. I had known about 95 Percent Group and the strength of its offerings in structured literacy. I was excited to continue to grow these offerings so they could reach and support more schools and more educators in ensuring every child can learn to read. I’m excited about our potential to make a big impact in this country.
What is your vision for the product ecosystem?
My vision is that the products in our One95 Literacy Ecosystem are the go-to literacy resources for schools and that 95 Percent Group is the one-stop-shop for structured literacy solutions that are evidence-based. I want our customers to know we offer them the comprehensive literacy ecosystem they need to pinpoint each child’s needs and accelerate their literacy skills. Educators can trust that our literacy ecosystem is effective because we invest in research that demonstrates the efficacy of our offerings. And they can know it is efficient—carrying the same instructional routines across products. As we continue to develop our ecosystem of product offerings and as schools continue to enhance their own literacy toolkit, I want teachers to know that they can add to their resources modularly and build out a cohesive set of resources with our 95 Percent Group offerings.
What is the one thing that is a must have?
It is crucial that all of our products have an evidence base that is aligned with what science of reading research says is the best practice. Everything we offer to schools is evidence-aligned—and that is table stakes for everything we develop. But the other must-have for schools is ease-of-use. This is central to what we do because teachers don’t have a lot of time so whatever we can do to support them in a very easy to use way is critical.
Describe the literacy ecosystem in your own words.
Our literacy ecosystem is an integrated suite of all of our professional learning and products that serve Tiers 1, 2, and 3 instruction and have a connectedness among them. If you begin with one product, and choose to add another, you’ll see a tight connection between the products. A teacher can fill her reading block with products from the One95 Literacy Ecosystem to meet the needs of ALL of her students.
Describe the mission of this company in your own words.
Two thirds of kids are struggling to read at grade level. We have a literacy crisis. What we do is so important because we are providing evidence-based instruction and practice that give all children the chance to be successful at reading. Our company exists to ensure all children have a chance to lead literate lives.
What is the ideal experience for the student?
The light bulb turns on for each student, in terms of cracking the alphabetic code. It is a journey for each student, and we need to ensure that by the time they reach the end of second grade they are accurate and fluent readers. We also want them to be enjoying the experience of learning how to read and what that experience can unlock for them.
For the teacher?
The ideal experience for teachers is that they have the tools they need to identify the precise area of skill difficulty for a student and be able, in turn, to provide exactly the right type of instruction to overcome that gap so that the child can be successful. Our goal is to provide teachers with that foundational knowledge they need and with all the necessary supports to put the science of reading and structured literacy into practice.
How do strong readers benefit from these products?
Our 95 Phonics Core Program® is a game changer for all students. It teaches them the foundational skills they need to master all aspects of reading. Even strong readers have some type of skill gap. It may not hold them back from reading, but it’s there. 95 Phonics Core Program can help identify those gaps and address them in an explicit and systematic manner so that these gaps don’t create larger difficulties for the child later on in school. Learning morphology, for example, serves stronger readers in understanding the real meaning of words based on word parts. This serves them well as they get into more complex texts.
Anything else to add?
I think what we have to offer, both in terms of professional learning and products, are second to none. In being evidence-aligned and offering the ability for teachers to pick up these easy-to-use resources and hit the ground running, we have a great opportunity to reach lots of kids and address the literacy crisis in this country. And that’s the great thing about this company. So many of our team members are former educators; and, as educators and mission-driven team members, we care about making a real difference. It’s what drives our work every day.
Learning to read is an equity issue in this country. The ability and opportunity to become a good reader is a social justice issue, and we have the opportunity to reach students from all age groups and backgrounds. We offer a literacy ecosystem that can serve all students so they can each be successful. That is foundational to who we are and what we do.
Are you interested in learning about how you can bring an effective and efficient structured literacy approach, grounded in the science of reading, to your school or district? Contact us today.
About Jennifer Harris
Jennifer Harris, Chief Product Officer, has deep experience building and leading innovative product development organizations in the literacy market. She has held senior leadership roles at Rowland Reading Foundation, Zaner-Bloser, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. As Chief Product Officer at 95 Percent Group, Harris is developing a robust product development strategy to accelerate the expansion of the company’s print and digital product portfolio.