Special Report: School District Purchasing Outlook for 2022-23

K-12 Buying Plans, Market Conditions, and Shifting Demands for Products, Sales and Marketing 

Managing Editor

A new EdWeek Market Brief special report looks at how districts will be prioritizing spending in different product categories next fiscal year, who in the district will be making those critical buying decisions, and which sales and marketing strategies are proving successful or missing the mark.

The special report report draws from a survey of 2,600 district administrators, principals, and teachers, as well as a separate survey of education company officials on their successes and struggles as they try to emerge from COVID’s shadow. 

The report, School District Purchasing Outlook for 2022-23offers not only original data on key buying trends, district behavior, and education company strategy. It also includes insights from EdWeek Market Brief’s editorial team on how to interpret the data and put the research in the context of the forces shaping the K-12 market – from the continued pandemic pressures to federal funding, state policy, and budget conditions.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • School district spending for the NEXT fiscal year (2022-23) will be strong in several key areas – particularly social-emotional learning, special needs programs, device-buying, and supplemental curriculum. Even in many areas where district officials say spending will be more modest, it will increase over the current year. 
  • District officials say they have little interest in scaling back ed-tech usage, even with the large-scale return to in-person learning. 
  • YouTube has emerged as a key social media resource for district decision-makers researching products, and finding ideas for lesson plans and PD – more so than Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. 
  • K-12 officials say nearly half of their students have coped with “significant” learning loss during COVID, and many are investing heavily in tutoring, summer school, and other strategies to combat that academic slippage. 

One example of the findings is the survey data on how much time school district administrators say they have to weigh the value of education company products. It presents a picture of K-12 leaders who are squeezed for time.

Another survey question asked district officials how much time per week they have to research new vendors. The answer? Not much.

Readers of the report will come away with research taken from a survey of district buyers on the following:  

  • The extent to which district spending will increase or decrease for NEXT fiscal year (2022-23) in different product categories, including core and supplemental curriculum for math and ELA; learning management and student information systems; core and formative, interim, and summative assessment; English-language learner programs; special education resources; and internet connectivity. 
  • Whether district RFPs and buying processes – and on-site vendor visits — are still being disrupted by COVID, or if those obstacles have fallen away. 
  • How much teacher product recommendations in different product categories influence district buying decisions. 
  • Which district officials – superintendents, chief academic officers, principals, chief technology officers, teachers, other – participate in different aspects of the purchasing process, from researching specific products to taking part in sales calls to acting as the ultimate decision-maker. 
  • In what subjects have districts experienced the most severe “learning loss”? (Math, ELA, social studies, science, other) 
  • The extent to which district officials believe they will ramp up or scale back ed-tech use, given schools’ return to in-person instruction? 
  • The length of the buying cycle in K-12 districts (less than 3 months, 4-6 months, more than 6 months, etc.) 
  • How much discretionary authority do K-12 officials have to make purchasing decisions outside of the RFP process, and for what amounts of money? 
  • How likely are districts to break from using incumbent vendors and choose new providers?  
  • What do education companies and their products have to do in order to receive a positive testimonial from a district? 

The report also includes the following insights collected from surveys of education company officials – the majority of whom are at the executive or director level:  

  • What are education companies’ projected and actual revenues, and how much have they changed since the start of the pandemic? 
  • Which education company marketing strategies are proving most effective? (webinars, case studies, white papers, testimonials, virtual events, social media) 
  • When do vendors anticipate sending staff to events in person, as opposed to keeping them in virtual environments. 
  • How are education companies allocating marketing resources? (content creation, marketing technology, database investments such as list rentals, digital events, in-person events, advertising) 
  • How much return on investment are companies getting from virtual events vs. in-person networking? 
  • For those companies that are getting stronger ROI from virtual events, WHY do those virtual events seem to be paying off? 
  • What steps are education companies taking to support their sales and marketing teams, in professional development and other strategies? 

The data and insights in the report offer a critical roadmap on the K-12 market and where it’s headed for to education company executives and individual teams working in sales, marketing, product development, customer success, market research and other areas.

To gain access to the full report, or to get more information on how to access it if you’re not an EdWeek Market Brief member, go here.

Image credit iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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