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Common Core, Online Learning, and Budget Optimism Are Highlights of Latest Industry Research From MDR

EdNET Insight’s in-depth research of the K-12 market landscape also captures optimism on budgets and tablet adoption, among other key trends.

February 7, 2014 — With myriad changes continuing to impact the K-12 marketplace, research shows that curriculum directors’ highest priorities are adapting to the Common Core, transitioning to digital materials, and reaping the broad opportunities in online learning. MDR’s State of the K-12 Market 2013 report—based on a large-scale survey of education decision makers and the industry’s only comprehensive view of the K-12 market and the trends impacting it—also confirms that the financial outlook for technology is expanding after several years of restraint, while tablets dominate as the device of choice for 1:1, connected and personalized instruction.

Purchasing of Common Core Materials Is Up

Districts in the 46 states and the District of Columbia that have officially adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are preparing for the first wave of Common Core assessments coming in the 2014-2015 school year. In response, 68% of districts plan to purchase new materials, a slight increase over last year’s 62%, reflecting perhaps the modest improvement in district budgets. While 75% of districts are looking for free resources from the CCSS assessment consortia (PARCC and SBAC), the reality is sinking in that using free materials comes with a cost (vetting time and uncertain quality), and/or there is greater confidence that new materials from publishers will genuinely be aligned with the CCSS.

The Future Is Undeniably Digital

Nearly three-fourths (73%) of curriculum directors rated “comes in a digital format” as an important factor influencing purchasing decisions of basal and supplemental materials (and only 3% said it was not important). More than half (53% each) of all curriculum and technology directors believe that digital materials will replace print instructional materials to a substantial extent over the next three years.

Getting Onboard With Online Learning

District budgets, state funding and policy, blended learning, the flipped classroom, and the Common Core are all factors impacting the rise of K-12 online learning. Overall, three out of ten curriculum directors (30%) and technology directors (33%) report an increase in the number of online courses in their district.

Offering Online Courses: All Districts



Good News for Technology Budgets

Overall, 2013-2014 budgets for technology—comprised of hardware, software, teacher training, and tech support—seem to have stabilized. Coming after the significant budgetary challenges of the past several years, it is welcome news that in at least 75% of districts, budgets in all four areas will either stay the same or increase.

Approximately a fourth of districts expect an increase in their hardware and teacher training budgets. Looking at the instructional technologies districts’ plan to purchase this year, it is clear they are acquiring devices—particularly tablets and laptops—that can be used for the PARCC and SBAC assessments.

The Era of Tablets and Apps

Tablets have penetrated K-12 schools in impressive numbers, with 85% of districts reporting use of tablets at some level and 25% reporting substantial implementation, a jump from 17% last year. For 2013, 11% of districts plan to purchase 500 or more tablets, 31% plan to buy 100 to 499, and 35% plan to purchase 10 to 99 units.

Substantial Implementation of Personal Computing Devices, 2013 and 2012


Year over year, there was a significant shift to devices such as smartphones and tablets over eReaders and netbooks. While smartphones see only 12% substantial use, that is almost double the 7% reported last year.

Districts use a variety of sources to provide apps and/or online content on mobile devices for their students, with the Apple App Store at the top of the list—used by 77% of districts—followed by the iBooks Store, Google Play, Amazon.com, and other websites. Despite having so many options, technology directors are not in agreement on the ease of sourcing apps; 29% say it is difficult to obtain appropriate apps, while 36% find it relatively easy.

Learn More

These highlights represent a taste of the insight available in the full State of the K-12 Market report. To learn more about the report and how it can help inform your business plans and go-to-market strategy, click here. To learn more about becoming an EdNET Insight member, call 800-333-8802.