Texas, which has more than 1,200 school districts serving 5 million students, has long been seen by education businesses as providing particularly bountiful opportunities, because of its size, the role that the state plays in decision-making around curriculum, and its relatively large districts.
In a new special report, EdWeek Market Brief helps its members make sense of the sprawling market, through in-depth reporting, research, and analysis.
The core of the report is built on hours of interviews our editorial team conducted with district administrators from across the state, delving into their school systems’ academic and spending priorities over the next year, how they’re responding to the chaos wrought by COVID-19, and what’s next.
Those interviews form the basis of Brian Bradley’s top story, as well as a “District Voices” section in which we let our readers hear directly from Texas K-12 officials about their hopes and concerns.
In addition, we present the results of state-specific surveys of Texas district officials conducted by the EdWeek Research Center on K-12 systems’ biggest priorities, and what they expect from companies.
Many common themes emerge — around devices, connectivity, state mandates squeezing local needs, and about pandemic-era priorities that will carry well into the future.
This report is the first of a three-part series that EdWeek Market Brief is producing on key state markets, to be followed by breakdowns of the state of play in California and Florida.
The first installment features insights from our detailed interviews with Texas superintendents, deputy superintendents, district chief financial officers and other decision-makers. They describe a market in which districts’ academic and budgetary plans have been reset by the pandemic, creating a new order of buying needs and goals in some areas, while reinforcing their commitment to existing strategic plans in others.
One Texas district official we interviewed said she did not expect the budget pressures her K-12 system is facing to abate anytime soon.
The “budget is bleeding,” she said. “We’re going to try to cut back where the least amount hits the classroom.”
Even so, her district, like many, is now looking for products and strategies to address the anticipated learning loss that has come about since last spring.
“We have to get back in the groove” she said, “and try to reach out to those students and get them on board, improve the student outcomes, prepare them for college and career and military readiness.”
Another Texas district official spoke about how the pandemic has increased his district’s hunger for online learning for the foreseeable future. We will “continue [to look for] curriculum and all the programs for virtual learning for however long we have to do that,” he said.
“Unfortunately, there’s no end in sight right now.”
The report offers critical insights on many issues affecting the Texas market, including:
- New survey data about where Texas officials expect to see their districts spending the most or least over the next year, in areas such as social-emotional learning, curriculum, PD, learning management and student information systems, and parent-communication tools.
- Data on the mix of districts engaged in remote, hybrid- or in-person learning across the state.
- Interviews and survey data on the impact that the historic state education law, House Bill 3, is having in district spending plans over the next few years.
- Intel on which sources of funding – federal, state, local, and grants – districts expect to increase or decline over the coming year, and how that movement will affect their spending ability.
- The voices of Texas district leaders, talking about their spending plans, the pressures they face, how COVID has reshaped their work, and what they need from vendors, in their own words.
EdWeek Market Brief members can download the full report here.