Niwot’s Indigo Education Makes Its Personality Assessment More Accessible

NIWOT — Indigo Education Co. is an education-tech company that provides comprehensive surveys about the skills and traits of students to help them better understand themselves.

The Boulder-based company, founded in 2013, is now automating the interpretations of its survey results using artificial intelligence. It’s also developed online courses students can take — typically when they’re college freshmen — that teaches young students how to know themselves, know where they’re going and know how to get to that goal.

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Indigo Believes That, To Personalize Learning, You Need To Start With a Learner’s Personality

When one hears ‘AI-delivered personalized learning,’ one immediately thinks of companies using adaptive algorithms to create a one-to-one teaching relationship without the teacher (or, alternatively, current edtech development in China). But one company believes that before you can personalize education, you need to be familiar with the personalities of each student. Indigo offers non-academic assessments of learners using numerous methods recently developed in the fields of psychology and social sciences. Their reports help guidance counselors and teachers tailor education for students and match them with learning experiences in which they will thrive.

eLearning Inside recently hopped on a video conference with Indigo CTO and Strategist for Technology and Growth Initiatives Chris Kalish. “Our designs are non-academic,” he said, “however they are designed to be able to understand the student better to deliver appropriate learning methodologies.”

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Indigo Education Company Brings Personalized Learning to U.S. Classrooms

BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Indigo Education Company promotes and implements personalized learning through non-academic, in-depth assessments and diverse school-based initiatives that put individual students at the center of education.

Indigo Education combines online assessments with an AI expert system that delivers individual student recommendations right in the classroom.  Robust professional development, an online career readiness course, entrepreneurship training, and consulting helps districts create human-centered strategic plans. By offering insights not found anywhere else, Indigo enables schools to transform their culture and improve outcomes.

Sheri Smith, founder and CEO of Indigo Education, says that her organization’s goal is to bring transformative change to public education, which has been built on a one-size-fits-all model. Smith advocates for a personalized learning approach that encourages innovation, individual strengths, and a student’s own interests.  

“The standardized approach to education is not giving students the skills and knowledge they need to connect with their futures. Students feel disillusioned,” Ms. Smith said. “Schools are eager for change but overwhelmed with daily challenges. Indigo Education offers solutions that provide meaningful impact and lead to positive results.”

Founded in 2013, Indigo Education uses the Indigo Assessment as the starting point to identify individual strengths in students as well as educators to bring personalized learning into the classroom at the middle, high school, and college level.

Indigo Education has delivered their assessment to over 75,000 U.S. students, as well as educators, in more than 100 high schools and colleges, with a comprehensive inventory of skills, motivators and behaviors based on more than 35 years of research. The Indigo Report also offers students custom post-secondary college major and career options.

Indigo Impact Initiative, the company’s nonprofit, catalyzes economic development in underserved communities by establishing partnerships that improve employment opportunities for students after high school.

Some schools and universities that engage students through Indigo:

  • Novato School District, Marin County, CA

  • University of California Irvine

  • Whitehorse High School, Navajo Reservation, Utah

  • United States Naval Academy

  • Phoenix Coding Academy

  • Peak to Peak High School, Lafayette, CO

  • Arizona State Barrett Honors College

  • Blue Valley CAPS, Overland, KS

Watch the video “Indigo Education Explained” to learn more.

For more information on the Indigo Education Company, its assessments and initiatives, call 877-665-3055, visit the website at, or email to to see article on Business Insider.

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The Average Student Myth

The Average Student Myth: A New Study Focuses on the Importance of the Individual in Education

By Sheri Smith

In his book, The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness, Harvard scientist Dr. Todd Rose examines  the idea that there is no average person and that by ignoring individual differences – and what makes us each distinctive – we overlook potential and talent.  The End of Average not only shows that there is no average person but also demonstrates the importance of nurturing traits that define each of us.  

Dr. Rose’s  work is part of a new field – the science of individuality— that looks for solutions to social problems by studying  individuals rather than group averages.  It is a recognition that each person has diverse talents. As the CEO of Indigo Education, I was curious to see if our own research would support Dr. Rose’s findings. I wanted to answer for myself whether the idea of the average student is really a myth.

The Indigo Assessment captured 150 dimensions of students – covering behaviors[1], motivators[2], soft skills[3], and perceptions[4]. The survey included four well-known corporate tools that have been used for the past 35 years. 

The results were striking.  Out of 15,012 students, not one fell into the average. Our analysis supported that the average student is indeed a myth.

Yet the education system is built on the myth that you can and should teach to the “average.” If a student does not fit into a very narrow mold measuring only academic performance, he or she is considered deficient.  Students have little time for learning what matters: relationship building, developing soft skills, tapping into self-knowledge, and understanding how to exercise their constitutional right for the pursuit of happiness. 

Ending average in education changes teacher training programs, what we spend our money and time on, how our schools look, how we measure success, how we define ourselves, and perhaps most importantly, how we give people the opportunity for leading a fulfilling life.   

The real change that needs to happen in education is not 1-to-1 laptops, some amazing new common core, or the perfect super school – it’s a mindset shift from the system to the individual. 

[1] Behaviors are measured by TTI’s DISC. DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different behavioral traits: dominance, influencing, steadiness, and compliance. This theory was then developed into a behavioral assessment tool by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke.

[2] The Indigo Motivators Assessment is based on the research of Dr. Eduard Spranger and Gordon Allport and their study of human value, motivation and drive.

[3] Soft Skills are measured using a Likert scale survey developed by Target Training International based on the most important soft skills for workplace success. 

[4] Perceptions are measured with TTI’s version of the Hartman Value Profile. It is based on the science of formal axiology, developed by Robert S. Hartman, providing rational answers to many of our questions about human values. Our values are the keys to our personalities, to self-knowledge, and to understanding others.

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Indigo: Empowering educators with online tools for analyzing education assessments

The Indigo Education Company is a social enterprise that administers their corporate level non-cognitive Indigo Assessment surveys in high-school and college classrooms and ensures that the results are accessible and informative for students and educators. In contrast to traditional academic evaluations, the Indigo Assessment places a high emphasis on the social and emotional aspects of student development, highlighting non-academic strengths, behavior styles and motivators. The reports that Indigo generates from these assessments have had different purposes in different contexts — they have been used by students for career guidance and better understanding themselves, educators for supporting students, and policy-makers for understanding the underlying data and making appropriate amendments to curricula.

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Indigo Hits BOCES in Niagara Falls

This past week, Indigo worked within throwing distance of Niagara Falls (the 8th wonder of the world). The Indigo Team hosted 10 districts in Western New York for a shared event to collaborate, share ideas, and talk about ways Indigo could be used in schools.

Lockport High School teachers and counselors going through an Indigo workshop.

Lockport High School teachers and counselors going through an Indigo workshop.

CEO Sheri Smith with a Buffalo Public Schools educator.

CEO Sheri Smith with a Buffalo Public Schools educator.

The event is a big celebration for Indigo – by hosting the event, all 10 districts can now get reimbursed by BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) for any work they do with Indigo.

Now, nearly twenty high schools in the Niagara Falls and Buffalo area can access Indigo’s products and services without finances being a barrier. It’s a huge step toward increasing the equity of our product suite for students in schools that want to partner with us.

Indigo has been working extensively in Western New York the past nine months through Natalie Beilein, our Program Director. She was recently featured in Niagara Gazette for the impact she had on one of the top-ranked junior college basketball teams in the nation.

It’s exciting to see all the buzz and excitement educators are having for Indigo. We saw teachers, counselors, social workers, and administrators from across the region exchanging ideas, sharing contact information, and discussing issues that matter in their schools. 

We are so thankful for BOCES helping make our services more affordable to high schools in Niagara-Orleans County. Can’t wait to bring this type of equity to schools throughout the state in the coming months, and further the work Natalie is doing leading Indigo in her region!

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High School Sun Devils Discover who they are Through Indigo

It may be January, but it’s still warm under the Arizona sun. We went out to meet high school students at ASU Preparatory Academy to unpack the Indigo with the Sun Devils. But we added a new twist: instead of working with the students on one day and the teachers on the other, we sat down for four hours with students and teachers in the same room.

Now, four hours is a long time, no matter how many bagel breaks you toss into the package. You may wondering: is it even possible for teachers and students to stay that long in the same room without going crazy?

Maybe it’s the magic of school, maybe it’s the magic of Indigo, or maybe we had just the right amount of bagel breaks: they were engaged the entire time. And they stayed after to ask questions.

How do you get teachers and students that engaged? The same way you make a first date go well – you let them talk about themselves. It’s as easy as that.

The whole day was designed around unpacking the Indigo Inventory answering questions around who students are, who teachers are, and how they can better work together by knowing each other better.

I could tell you more, but students are better storytellers than I am. Here’s how four students reacted to the Indigo Inventory and going through an Indigo Day with their teachers.

Gonzalo / 9th Grade: 

Dominance is my type of behavior style. I am tough but fair and I view championing as a worthy cause. I strive to improve myself or the situation I am involved with. I have a competitive nature and enjoy working with others. The Indigo Self-Assessment results were pretty accurate in their description of me.”

Isabella / 9th Grade: 

“I discovered that I have an Influencing behavior style. I like to lead and work with people who can hold a conversation. I appreciate constructive criticism but don’t respond well to being talked down to. I know how to negotiate to get what I want. The results were accurate and there were even some characteristics that I hadn’t realized about myself.”

Ethan / 11th Grade: 

“I was surprised at how detailed the Indigo assessment results were. They really described the way I am. I am a “High I” which means I have an influencing behavior style. I am detail oriented, creative, but I also have difficulty managing my time. I do a really good job of verbalizing my feelings, negotiating and giving feedback.”

Kale / 12th Grade: 

“My Indigo results showed that I am high in the area of Steadiness. I am a steady and consistent member of a team and look for a strong leader to support. I have a good mix of procedures and creativity that I can offer a team. I found it interesting to see the careers I was matched with such as photography, forestry and being a laboratory assistant, which I am actually interested in becoming.”

Thank you for letting us come into your school, ASU Prep! We look forward to future opportunities to work together (and more warm winter days in Arizona)!

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Two Roads Assistant Principal Writes Academic Paper on Indigo

Teachers at Two Roads Charter School in an Indigo Training.

Teachers at Two Roads Charter School in an Indigo Training.

    John Waters, rocking the backward hat.

    John Waters, rocking the backward hat.

John Waters is an Assistant Principal at Two Roads Charter school. He’s a four-time “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” and knows where all the good places to eat are in Westminster (trust me, we went to Dae Gee last time). In my opinion, he’s one of the most chill High S and High C’s I’ve ever met.

Not only is Waters clocking 40+ hours a week working with the Two Roads family, but he’s also working on his masters right now at the University of Colorado Denver. He did an organization profile on Indigo Project this past fall, interviewing multiple members of the Indigo team to learn about what we are doing.

We loved his paper. Not only is Waters a sharp operator, but he’s worked with Indigo for nearly a year now at Two Roads. He’s seen us from a researcher and client perspective. This is how, in his eyes, he sees our mission:

“To understand Indigo Project’s mission is to also understand that students do not achieve success in secondary education solely through standardized practices and methodologies. While all good teachers know that there are various learning styles within each classroom … many struggle with how to dig deeper in knowledge of their students … Indigo enters when a school wants to deconstruct these and discuss solutions and opportunities for growth.”

                Students at Two Roads' Littleton campus after an Indigo Student Workshop.

                Students at Two Roads’ Littleton campus after an Indigo Student Workshop.

There are no systems or standardized practices that meets the needs of students in secondary education because there are no systems or practices that fits for everyone. Students are different, and Indigo helps deconstruct what makes students who they are. We build solutions with administrator teams.

One of the great things about Two Roads is that their entire administration team is on board with the work Indigo is doing:

“Because the administrators at my school are committed to understanding our students beyond their academic performance, we felt there were missing pieces in our puzzle of holistically developing our student body…Our leadership team was frustrated with our students’ low state-level standardized test scores because we knew they were learning but struggled to perform well on the tests’ markers.”

Two Roads’ district, Jefferson County Public Schools, is beginning the conversation around non-academic outcomes (NAO). JeffCo is working to create more opportunities in development for growth mindset, grit, collaboration, and mindfulness to name a few.

Two Roads' teachers talking about what personalized education would look like at their school.

Two Roads’ teachers talking about what personalized education would look like at their school.

NAO is still in its early days, and districts everywhere are working to define what it is, how to measure it, and what “impact” really means. It’s part of the conversation we are having with Two Roads currently. It takes time. It takes effort.

Waters knows that the newness of NAO means it will take time to see tangible results. Although the long-range goals are still being discovered in Indigo and Two Roads’ partnership, Waters still believes Indigo is part of the future of NAO:

“If Jeffco and other school districts in the state or nationwide choose to explore NAO, I would advocate strongly for Indigo Project despite my school’s lack of identifying definitive outcomes at this time.”

This is what we’re most excited for in 2017. Now that we’ve established our presence in Colorado, New York, California, and Arizona (projects in over ten states), we are working to build new tools and platforms that will allow schools to do even more than they are already doing with Indigo data. We’re discovering new ways to make non-academic data intersect intelligently with curriculum, counseling, analysis, and most importantly, building personal and meaningful human relationships that matter.

We’re not a perfect company, and we’re still growing into who we are. But it’s always encouraging to see schools give honest opinions, help us grow, and stand by us as we continue to move forward in the mission of impacting one million students. Because students, at the end of the day, are why anyone who works at Indigo gets out of bed in the morning.

                           Director Joel Kaplan teaching improv after a student workshop.

                           Director Joel Kaplan teaching improv after a student workshop.

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Indigo Points High School Seniors to College Fits

Indigo Points High School Seniors to College Fits

February 26th 2015, Written by Marie Campbell

“Have any of you ever been told you should be something?” Heather Clark of the Indigo Education Company asked a room of 12th grade students. The group responded with a resounding “Yes!”

As part of a large-scale implementation funded by the Colorado Department of Education, the Indigo Education Company conducted an all-day training for high school Seniors this Monday at Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, CO. The students had already completed their Indigo Assessments online, and Monday’s training walked them through the major sections of their Indigo Reports.

Clark, one of four Indigo trainers, asked students to share expectations other people may have placed on them. Students shouted their responses:

“I should be less lazy!”

“I should be quieter.”

“I should be a lawyer.”

Clark encouraged students to write a list of “shoulds” imposed on them by society, parents, teachers, etc. Then she pointed students to their Indigo results. “These pages have the puzzle pieces of you who are, how you think, how you interact with people, and your top skills. At Indigo, we’re here to tell you that the only thing you should be is … yourself!”

Clark divided students into six groups based on their top Motivators, as measured by the Indigo Assessment. Students discussed how their Motivators could affect their choice of college major. Next, Clark divided students according to their DISC scores, which explain the four major Behavioral Styles: Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, and Compliance/Conscientiousness. Students were encouraged to seek college professors who would support their unique methods of communicating. For instance, students scoring high on the Influencing scale tend to be talkative, optimistic, and friendly.

“Does this describe you?” Clark asked a group of high-I students.

They responded with laughter. “Not at all,” one girl joked.

In general, Influencers need to process ideas through other people and tend to be highly social. The Indigo team urged these high-I students to find college professors who prioritize class discussions and encourage verbal responses.

“In college, it’s like you have a super power,” Rachel Thor, Indigo Curriculum Designer and Workshop Trainer, told students. “You get to pick which classes and professors fit you best.” Many students expressed surprise; they hadn’t realized they could choose professors that teach to their unique learning styles.

Throughout the day, Indigo members stressed the idea that there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ when it comes to your personality blueprint. All temperament types can have an impact when they work from their strengths. At the end of each training, Clark asked students to write a new list of “shoulds” for themselves—“But this time,” she said, “make sure your ‘shoulds’ fit who you truly are.”

A student scoring high in the Aesthetic Motivator wrote, “I should spend more time in nature.” A passionate Theoretical—motivated by knowledge and truth—added that she “should continue to learn new things.”

One Peak to Peak Senior, Zacahary Nix, expressed his gratitude for the Indigo Assessment: “It’s helping me communicate with my classmates on a deeper level,” he said excitedly. Zach explained that he has been paying attention to his classmates’ Indigo Reports and discovering how they may think or communicate differently than he does.

Indigo will continue working with Peak to Peak in the months to come, helping students and teachers incorporate who they really are into all aspects of their education. To learn more about Indigo’s work with high schools and colleges around the nation, click here.

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Future Business Leaders Prepped for Success

Future Business Leaders Prepped for Success

January 27th 2015, Written by Jahla Seppanen

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Hundreds of high school students gathered in Denver this week for the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Colorado Leadership Conference, hoping to answer this very question. Sheri Smith of the Indigo Education Company, among others, spoke with students about the skills they need to achieve their dreams.

“General manager for a sports team,” Andres Vizurraga of Littleton High School said, when asked to state his career plan.

“Owner of my own photography business,” said classmate Julia Arellano-Votaw.

Together with their fellow future business leaders, Andres and Julia formed a sea of teenagers all appearing as if they had worked in business for a decade: suits, ties, dresses, blazers, eye-contact, confidence, and – most of all – a plan.

This is the genius of FBLA, a non-profit education organization dedicated to preparing students for the business world. In an effort tobring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs, the FBLA cultivates vital skills not taught in traditional classrooms. At the Colorado Leadership Conference, students learned the importance of Resiliency, Self-Management, Teamwork, Personal Accountability, Negotiation, and Futuristic Thinking, among others. These non-academic skills, which are measured by Indigo Education’s Assessment technology, will directly and positively impact student success during the transition from classroom to career.

During the conference, CEO of the Indigo Education Company Sheri Smith spoke with FBLA students about career paths and values development. Smith is a believer in the power of non-academic strengths; she has tailored her company’s Assessment tool to measure skills gaps that may hinder students’ capacity for success after graduation. Indigo is currently partnering with schools across the nation, creating innovative ways to incorporate these underdeveloped job-skills into pre-existing curricula. Indigo, along with FBLA, believes that teaching non-academic skills will accelerate student success in and beyond the classroom.

Both Andres and Julia attest to the positive impact FBLA’s business training has had on their future career plans, as well as their self-awareness and confidence. “I didn’t know there was a proper way to interview,” Julia said.

FBLA is among the top 10 organizations listed by the U.S. Department of Education, and it services over a quarter million students around the country. Participation in job-skills education equips individuals like Andres and Julia with confidence and preparedness they would not have gained from a traditional classroom.

We all answer the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” FBLA students, however, face a new and perhaps more important question: “Are you prepared for the job?”


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