One of the biggest drivers of market change for providers of K-12 instructional materials is the disruption in the testing industry, as states continue to change their testing requirements for students. There is less reliance on high-pressure statewide testing and more interest in ongoing assessment throughout the school day and school year.
Amid the changing testing landscape, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sold its testing business, Measured Progress merged with AdvancED, and ACT transitioned from being solely a testing company to becoming a learning company, enabled by several acquisitions.
PreK-12 Instructional Materials Industry Competitive Analysis, 2019, a newly released report from Simba Information, examines how providers in the K-12 instructional materials industry are adjusting to various market environmental factors such as diminished high-stakes testing opportunities.
One trend that emerged in mergers and acquisitions was that private equity firms continued to be active players—buying, selling and combining education businesses. Simba found two other notable trends running through merger and acquisition activity:
- Education businesses made strategic add-ons for growth;
- International companies continued acquisitions of U.S. businesses;
Another area undergoing disruption is instructional materials adoptions. K-12 instructional materials adoptions are one of the most obvious amphitheaters for competition. While long dominated by a few large publishers, the variety and number of programs offered and the number of participating publishers has increased greatly.
The California state Board of Education, for instance, in fall 2018 approved 29 programs from 17 publishers for the K-8 science adoption in which schools began purchasing in 2019.
Phonics has become part of the conversation about reading instruction again and the use of literature and classroom libraries for reading instruction also is percolating anew, creating more competitive dynamics.
Parental puzzlement over changes in math instruction continues to make this a competitive subject area. Meanwhile, debates are intensifying over what to include—and at what grade level—in materials for social studies, science and health education.
In PreK-12 Instructional Materials Industry Competitive Analysis, 2019, Simba looks at several comparative factors as a guide to how the industry is faring, including:
- Which companies are buying, which are selling, and which are merging;
- What market problems or issues are entrepreneurs trying to solve and which startups are getting the money to do so;
- How well are public companies performing in the fractured market.
The report includes detailed strategic profiles of 13 leading core basal and supplemental publishers in the PreK-12 market. Profile data included key executives, company overview, K-12 publishing strategy, and financial summary.