How Education Policy Shapes the Edtech Market
Even during lean times, school districts have been eager to invest in technology in the classroom, opening up all kinds of opportunity for edtech companies. But this market is unpredictable and influenced by many unseen factors.
A major factor in the rise and fall of edtech companies is shifting educational policies. On a national and regional level, such policies have influenced the edtech market profoundly.
Here are a few examples which demonstrate this influence.
NCLB and ESSA
The “Every Student Succeeds” Act of 2015 (as well as its predecessor, the “No Child Left Behind” act of 2002) was a game-changer for schools and for the companies that served them. The emphasis on standards-based assessment has created a deluge of potential opportunities for savvy edtech startups. Pearson experienced a meteoric rise in edtech products. “Drill-and-kill” tools like Study Island have been consumed by teachers and students in massive quantities. High-stakes testing created a voracious market for digital materials in the service of assessment and test prep. Today, edtech companies are still riding the wave of this legislation as they continue to evolve and promote new products for the measurement of testing benchmarks.
Changes in the Teacher Recertification Process
Students are not the only ones who are required to give evidence of their learning. The landscape of professional development for teachers has changed, too. Individual states are now implementing evidence-based portfolios as a requirement for teacher recertification. These policy changes have opened up a market for evaluation tools that facilitate things like collaboration and video coaching.
The Common Core
Similar to the testing requirements of Every Student Succeeds, the requirements of the “Common Core” demand online assessments aligned to specific learning goals. Many of the same companies that cashed in on ESSA have risen to even greater heights in response to these demands. But things may be poised to change once again. The Common Core has become increasingly controversial in individual districts, many of whom are working to develop local standards to replace them.
Education policy can have a negative impact on the edtech market, too. In the last few years, parents have registered mounting concerns about the protection of student data. These concerns led to policies restricting access to student records, instantly making obsolete those companies that aimed to cash in on a need for large-scale storage of data. One such company was inBloom. Promoting tools for storing and aggregating student data, inBloom was forced to close when 36 states introduced new bills to protect student privacy.
As with any other kind of market, the changes in edtech can be difficult to predict. It takes a truly savvy entrepreneur to sense the way is wind is blowing and deliver products that meet the demand.