PreK-12 School Improvement Opportunities 2011 is a state-of-play market briefing that examines the unique opportunity offered to publishers of textbooks and providers of educational materials, tools and services by the expanded federal funding of the U.S. Department of Education’s School Improvement Grants program for lowest-performing schools. In the process, SIG, and other federal programs like Race to the Top, are helping disrupt traditional business models and processes in the educational publishing industry.
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the federal stimulus plan, the Obama administration poured about $4 billion in funding into school improvement and redirected the focus to the worst-performing schools.
As a result, most states are compiling lists of approved external providers for schools to work with. While there is great variation in the lists, it creates a competitive landscape and typically reflect a mix of in-state educational agencies, universities, non-profit organizations and commercial technology and educational services and materials vendors as wide-ranging as America’s Choice, Edison Learning, Cambium Learning, Learning Point Associates, Mosaica Education, Success for All Foundation and Wireless Generation.
The demands of the School Improvement Grants opportunity has sparked changing business models and acquisitions, particularly among the largest publishers such as Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, while McGraw-Hill, Scholastic and Renaissance Learning are among publishers partnering or reorganizing internally to pursue the opportunities.
From SIG specifically, one lesson is that traditional publishers and software providers are facing increasing competition from newly formed companies based on educational management know-how and instructional strategy prowess, as well as from providers of data analysis services that have moved into the education space.
PreK-12 School Improvement Opportunities 2011 looks at where the greatest opportunities are for publishers of textbooks and providers of instructional materials, tools and services. Opportunities in instructional programs exist particularly under the transformation and turnaround models. Remediation, enrichment, differentiated learning and response to intervention are components, as is integration of technology.
Case studies at schools in Miami, Bridgeport, Conn., Yakima, Wash. and Boston demonstrate how school leaders are prioritizing educational needs and how spending on instructional materials and professional development fits into school improvement plans. Publishers featured in the case studies include Apex Learning, Scholastic, Carnegie Learning Bridge and others.
The very persistence of the problem creates an ongoing need. Whether the response in the future is Schools Improvement Grants or some other program, the federal government, states and local school districts will continue to attack the problem.
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