Inside the California K-12 Market: District Priorities and Pain Points

Managing Editor
Inside California's K-12 Market: A Special Report

California’s school districts have taken a go-it-slow approach to reopening in-person, compared to some other states. It’s just one of the factors shaping the education market in the nation’s most populous state, which is the subject of a penetrating new EdWeek Market Brief special report.

District officials across California are under acute pressure to deliver distance learning that will engage students and satisfy families, given the uncertainty about when schools will return to face-to-face learning in classrooms.

That uncertainty persists despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s urging that schools across the state, which serve 6.3 million students, make the switch to in-person instruction as soon as possible.

Administrators and educators in the state are also trying to navigate students’ social-emotional needs and overall well-being, which educators fear have been shaken by the pandemic.

Those are just some of the themes that EdWeek Market Brief explores in the report, the second in a three-part series on critical education markets for K-12 companies. The first installment focused on Texas, and the report to follow will delve into Florida.

This report, like the others in the series, is based heavily on in-depth interviews EdWeek Market Brief conducted with district officials about their pressing academic and spending priorities and what they want from vendors in the months and years to come.

It includes David Saleh Rauf’s top story guiding readers through district demands. It features an “In Their Own Voices” section in which we allow our readers to hear from California K-12 officials directly about their most urgent challenges. And it offers the results of state-specific surveys of California district officials conducted by the EdWeek Research Center.

The report offers insights from district leaders like Michael Matsuda, superintendent at the 30,000-student Anaheim Union High School District. He speaks to the pressures he and his peers around the state face to not only craft academic strategies to help students during remote learning, but also to find ways to help a “whole generation that is traumatized” by the events that have played out over the last 11 months.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of districts that are focused on just jamming content down students’ throats because they’re behind,” Matsuda told EdWeek Market Brief.

“While there is a need to address learning loss, it’s really about how we build resilience for this entire generation. So a lot of our resources are going to go into social workers and counselors and school psychologists, and a retraining of our teaching staff on dealing with this.”

The report brings revealing insights on key issues affecting the California K-12 market, including:

  • New survey data about where California district officials expect to spend the most or the least over the next year, in areas such as social-emotional learning, curriculum, PD, learning management and student information systems, and parent-communication tools.
  • Perspectives on how state policies – such as the budget, and decisions about remote vs. in-person learning – are going to play out over the next year and affect district priorities.
  • Survey data on which elements of Local Control Accountability Plans – key blueprints laying out California local district priorities – K-12 leaders expect companies seeking to do business with them to pay the most attention to.
  • Insights on the extent to which California districts are going “off-list” and straying from state adoption guidelines in purchasing curriculum.

EdWeek Market Brief’s members can access the full report here.

Image by Getty

See also: