The Education Industry Association, which struggled to keep membership after a downturn in federal funding for tutoring, is joining a division of the Software & Information Industry Association, or ETIN, effective immediately, under an agreement announced today.
The move adds about 50 percent more members to that division, the Education Technology Industry Network. The SIIA group will now represent about 230 member companies that provide educational software applications, digital content, online learning services and related technologies to the K-20 sector, according to Karen Billings, vice president and managing director of the network.
Terms of the agreement were not released.
“Strategically, this means—in our advocacy work—that we are representing an even larger set of vendors and education providers, and a growing diversity of types of education companies that are moving to digital in some way,” Billings said in a phone interview.
While most of the members of the EIA are not large and represent regional tutoring and learning centers, there are also some financial institutions on the list, including BMO Capital Markets, First Analysis Corp., and GSV Advisors, she said.
The move was a “conscious decision on EIA’s part to stay focused on the K-12 side, as opposed to expanding into the university side of the industry,” said Robert Lytle, managing director and co-head of education at Parthenon-EY, who chaired the board of the Education Industry Association. He will join ETIN’s board of directors as part of the agreement, which is not legally considered a merger, but rather an asset sale, he explained in a phone interview.
The EIA has undergone major changes in recent years, as the majority of its members were private tutoring firms that had benefited under the No Child Left Behind law lost a rich source of funding. That federal education law had mandated that states use 20 percent of Title I funds for after-school tutoring and transportation for school choice to eligible students using Supplemental Education Services funding.
But the U.S. Department of Education started granting waivers from that requirement in February 2012, freeing up those Title I dollars and drying up a steady source of money. SES providers ranging from large, publicly held companies to small “mom-and-pops” needed to adjust, and many of the smaller ones went out of business.
“When SES was a robust sector of the education business, EIA was at its height,” Lytle said. Founded in 1990, there were very few organizations at that time aimed at the business side of education, he said. “Now there are a dozen or so in micro-niches.”
One of EIA’s highest profile activities in recent years occurred in 2014, when the association partnered with Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to spur innovation in education, on a large procurement study that explored districts’ and companies’ frustrations with the marketplace. Early in 2015, Steve Pines—who had been EIA executive director for 10 years—announced his plans to retire later in the year.
For ETIN, the absorption of 80 new members means that it will look at more ways to serve the needs of different interests, Billings said. Jim Giovannini, who had been executive director of EIA after Pines left, is joining the steering committee for the ETIN’s upcoming Education Industry Symposium, which will be held July 25 to 27 in Denver.
And Billings said new categories of membership might mean that the 29 categories in the CODiE Awards competition, which is judged by educators, will grow in the future. The competition represents applications, products and services from developers of educational software, digital content, online learning services, and related technologies across the PreK-20 sector.
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