Rockville MD, December 12, 2023 –
Educational Publishers are facing new challenges when submitting textbooks for consideration during State adoption processes. States are creating new instructional frameworks and revising textbook standards that often cannot be met by existing instructional products. In addition, new types of influencers in determining which publishers’ books will win contracts have emerged: these are now drawn from the political realm, the mass media, academia, and, most notably parent activists.
Those are just a few of the findings outlined by Simba Information in its just published 2022 National Instructional Materials Adoption Scorecard and Outlook. This new market report identifies trends and critical developments that are shaping the market for pre-K-12 instructional materials in textbook adoption states.
Lagging Student Performance Drives Change in the Textbook Market
These new textbook standards add complexity to the adoption process: including increased development time, more extensive sales and marketing efforts, and an extended textbook decision process. Those factors add time and expenses for the publisher and can put pressure on margins.
In addition, as states explore solutions for their own education systems, many are seeking more customized approaches to meet the needs of their students. Florida created its own B.E.S.T. standards in 2020 and California launched a new direction in math instruction with its new framework in 2023. As a result, publishers will grapple with more customized instructional products in each state, also a potential pressure on margins.
The report also details how educators are addressing a long-term decline in student performance-- especially in essential reading and math skills--that is compounded by recent learning losses traced to the pandemic period. States are pursuing a range of tools to address student performance: including legislation, new education strategies and policies, and the overhaul of curricula, instructional materials, and teaching methods.
Impact of Influencers Shapes Textbook Adoption Decisions
In the prior decade, the adoption of public school instructional materials was generally conducted as a procurement decision, often with a limited group of state education administrators and executives. States have steadily widened their inputs into textbook adoption decisions, including subject area experts, teachers, evaluation specialists such as EdReports, and the public.
As the crisis in student performance has unfolded, new influencers have emerged: from the political realm, the mass media, academia, and parent activists. Politicians are responding to the concerns of their constituents with a steady flow of new legislation designed to mandate higher quality public school education. Major media are increasing coverage of textbook adoption policies, often framed within a political context.
Most notable of the influencers are parents, who are acting as individual citizens and in concert with grass-roots activist groups to improve the quality of education for their children. Parents have become very involved in the vetting of instructional materials and in some cases, have been able to remove certain textbooks from classrooms. Parental assessment is expected to play an ever-larger role in textbook choices, especially as states define parental roles in education through “parents’ rights” legislation.
Many of the influencers are highly politicized and often in open conflict with official adoption decisions. Publishers can be caught in the crossfire and will need to employ new strategies to navigate the landscape of influencers in order to attain a successful adoption.
A Multi-Dimensional View
The new Simba report offers a comprehensive, multi-layered view of this market landscape: including competitor analysis, growth drivers, social and cultural trends, political and legislative activity, and structural shifts in adoption state processes and policy. Focusing on 2022 and 2023, the Simba report chronicles activity across a full range of adoption states, including Texas, Florida, and California, as well as notable materials adoptions in mid-size and smaller states.
The report tracks the performance of publishers involved in the largest textbook adoptions during the scope of the analysis, including activity for McGraw Hill, Savvas, HMH, Cengage, Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, Accelerate Learning, Goodheart-Willcox, Nystrom, and more. Further, the report offers details on winning adopted products as well as perspective on products that were not adopted in this cycle.
Simba provides an outlook for upcoming activity in all adoption states, forecasting a subdued year in 2024 and a rebound in activity for 2025. The report closes with an assessment of emerging challenges and opportunities in the marketplace and offers strategies to help publishers succeed in the current market environment.