Challenging K-12 Market ‘Turning the Corner,’ Analyst Tells Ed. Publishers

Managing Editor


School leaders are a bit more optimistic about the state of their budgets than they were a year ago, a sign of confidence that could lead to increased spending on ed-tech tools and other materials, an analyst told representatives of the nation’s school publishing industry on Monday.

Sixteen percent of district officials surveyed about their instructional budgets in 2013 said they expected their financial situations to improve, according to Kathleen Brantley of the market research company MDR, speaking at a conference of the Association of American Publishers’ PreK-12 Learning Group.

While that’s hardly cause for joy in the business community, it’s far better than the 6 percent of school officials who voiced a degree of optimism the year before. In addition, the portion of K-12 officials who believe budgets will worsen over the coming year has fallen, Brantley said at the publishers’ event, branded “Content in Context.

“Since the recession, it’s been hugely challenging,” Brantley said. But now, as state and local tax revenues replenish K-12 budgets, there’s a sense among school officials that “we’re definitely turning the corner on this.”

Other takeaways from Brantley’s presentation:

  • The portion of district officials who said they are planning to purchase technology hardware rose from 19 percent to 25 percent in 2013, and those who said they were keen on buying software and teacher-training programs also rose;
  • The percentage of district officials who said they are taking substantial steps to implement tablet-computing programs in schools rose from 17 percent to 25 percent in 2013. While MDR’s most current data on tablet usage isn’t complete yet, Brantley said she expects the number to climb even higher. (Even so, on the whole, the scope of tablet implementation in districts was much smaller than for other, established classroom technologies, such as interactive whiteboards, she noted.);
  • More than 80 percent of district officials said that improving wireless technology would be a high priority for them over the next few years. In addition, the portion of districts officials identifying 1-to-1 computing projects as top priorities also rose signficantly over that period.

Much of MDR’s data, which comes from surveys of district technology and curriculum officials and others, is provided at a cost to clients. More details on the organization’s research can be found on its website.

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