The PreK-12 Instructional Materials Adoptions Market


Welcome to Simba Information's all-in-one PreK-12 Instructional Materials Adoptions Page! You'll find complete coverage of PreK-12 instructional materials adoptions through our market research reports, blog posts, press releases, videos, & multimedia, all consolidated for your convenience.

For the PreK-12 education market and its instructional materials publishers, change was the watchword at the start of 2016, and in most years since 2000. A degree of stability was anticipated with the late 2015 enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which gave states the power to develop their policies, as well as their innovation of standards and systems. After the ESSA passed, states shook off the big changes D.C. has dictated, and focused their attention on reworking their core curriculum and reasserting their individual educational direction. School districts viewed the Every Student Succeeds Act as reflective of their newfound agency in terms of decision-making. The skirmishes that will erupt between districts and state capitals over this locus of directional control have only just begun to unfold in 2017. Still, states began work on their new education plans in 2016, and continue to address new standards that have been emerging in new state education accountability plans that are currently being reviewed in 2017 by the U.S. Department of Education.

PreK-12 Schools Address Materials Adoptions Post- ESSA:

Among the market’s main 2016 attractions was the beginning of purchases in California’s K-8 language arts adoption program, which state leaders heralded as groundbreaking. California’s language arts framework will incorporate English-language development, ensuring that language-learning becomes central to the curriculum.

With the enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act, adoptions and innovations in PreK-12 instructional materials are likely to increase, since states and their schools can now focus on redesigning their curriculums. The market’s publishers must capitalize on opportunities that appear after states approve new materials adoption programs, when demand for new educational resources almost immediately appears.

K-12 education’s digital transition continues apace with robotics and virtual reality resources, while a demand for print persists that is changing the industry’s rhetoric. As product innovation continues to ramp up, the market’s instructional materials publishers must adjust to the differing directions school districts will decide on.


Events in the broad PreK-12 education landscape impact each school’s approach to their curriculums and instructional materials acquisitions. Simba Information uses several keywords to describe the market outlook: personalization; adaptive; and augmented reality.

We're Focusing on These Market Areas in the Coming Years:

1. The Adoption of Technology

School districts are trying aggressively to implements educational technology. Between 2014 and 2016, K-12 classrooms saw their total installed bases of desktops, laptops, and Chromebooks increase by 13.3%, driven by a steep increase in adopted Chromebooks. Instructional materials publishers should expect increasing demand from states and districts for digital programs.

2. No Child Left Behind, Common Core Standards, and the Every Student Succeeds Act

Having journeyed through No Child Left Behind and the Common Core standards movement, states and school districts are poised to implement plans in compliance with the ESSA. The ESSA will authorize many schools to direct funding toward innovation, increased access to STEM education for students, educator quality, and accelerated learning. As schools shift their focuses, a spike in materials adoptions will be inevitable.

3. Open Educational Resources (OER)

One could argue that open educational resources (OER) have settled into the PreK-12 education market; the U.S. Department of Education gives full support to the concept of open source content that is freely available (or for low prices), most notably through the GoOpen campaign, which launched in fall 2015. The aim of the campaign is to provide all PreK-12 students with high quality learning materials. “We are encouraging districts and states to move away from traditional textbooks and toward freely accessible, openly licensed materials,” then- U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan said when launching the GoOpen campaign.

Digital Media has 56.8% Share in 2016:

As schools adopt more digital materials, Simba Information estimates that digital media accounts for nearly 57% of media in schools during 2016. More school districts are expecting supplemental resources to align to standards and integrate –via a single sign-on, for example – with other instructional materials in the classroom. Because digital supplements must compete with the rising tide of OER (open educational resources), standards alignment requirements may bode well for digital’s market longevity. Nevertheless, this category’ growth has been slow, up just 1.4% to an estimated $962 million in 2016.

The Every Student Succeeds Act:

PreK-12 instructional materials must adjust as states discard ESSA auspices. Publishers’ selection of textbooks, courseware, assessments, and other resources will likely transform in the wake of this market shift. “Going digital does not just mean more robotics and virtual reality in schools, said Kathy Mickey, senior analyst and managing editor of Simba Information. “Ubiquitous search engines and social media networking sites available to teachers make it inevitable that open source and free materials will be a bigger part of the instructional mix.“ As the array of materials permeating the industry continues to evolve and diversify, Simba projects that the Prek-12 instructional materials industry will grow at a 2.5% compound annual growth rate to $9.46 billion in 2020.

Confronting and Incorporating OER:

GoOpen initially involved 16 school districts, ten of which have taken up the challenge of replacing at least one textbook in the next year with openly licensed educational resources. Another six school districts already make use of some open-license materials, and serve as ambassador districts to help remaining districts to find and curate these open educational resources.

Tablets & Courseware Particularly Popular in PreK-12:

The total installed base of educational tablets in PreK-12 classrooms reached 2.8 million units in 2016, up 21.7% from 2.3 million units in 2014. An earlier forecast predicted an installed base of 4 million tablets, although this margin between forecast and actual implementation possibly represents a sharp increase in schools’ purchases of Chromebooks, which increased by more than 225% since 2014.

Simba defines courseware as digital content aligned to scope and sequence of a subject that is accessible over the length of a semester- or year-long course. The PreK-12 market for courseware has had steady growth, and as more courseware providers enter the market and offer more services, more school districts will be inclined to purchase this hardware for their classrooms. Courseware sales in 2016 stood at $1.51 billion, up 3.7% from 2015.

Common Core & a Shifting Selection of Materials:

Nearly 40% of educators surveyed by SImba report that CC (common core) standards and new learning standards have paved the way for how schools administer reading instruction and adopt new materials differently. Another 41.4% of educators reported that CC standards have resulted in moderate change.

"Going digital does not just mean more robotics and virtual reality in schools. Ubiquitous search engines and social media networking sites available to teachers make it inevitable that open source and free materials will be a bigger part of the instructional mix."
Amazon Launches Inspire, Digital Ed Resources

Amazon launched its ‘Amazon Inspire’, a free way to search for and share digital OER, in June 2016. Inspire aims to provide educators with the largest selection of free and open educational resources that will improve instruction and student learning outcomes. Rohit Agarwal, general manager of Amazon K-12 education, told EER that digital learning can transform classrooms, but making the promise a reality is a time-consuming proposition. “Teachers will be armed with the collective wisdom of their peers when they walk in to teach a lesson,” said Agarwal. Amazon Inspire is still in beta stage. The company’s plan is for educators to shape the evolution of the service. When developing Inspire, Amazon heard from educators that a folder of resources has greater value than the sum of its parts. Amazon included a Collections feature where educators can group resources, recommend an order for use, and share what they have built. Amazon began its commitment to open educational resources and the OER movement in October 2015 when the DoE launched its GoOpen campaign. Amazon Web Services is providing infrastructure and develop support for the DoE’s Learning Registry.


PreK-12 Instructional Materials Adoptions News

 In-depth industry coverage with links to Simba Information blogs, press releases & industry sources.

National Instructional Materials Adoptions

Simba Information’s 2016 National Instructional Materials Adoption Scorecard and 2017 Outlook provides individual analyses of each adoption states, with sales broken down by publisher by grade segments.

In 2016, the federal government set its sights on rulemaking around the ESSA. The states, which mostly continued to pump funding into PreK-12 education, went to work on how to best implement the act.. To cap off the year’s highlights, the presidential election set expectations for change even higher. And the use of technology and OERs, continually growing in popularity and prominence, is fomenting more change.

In terms of federal policy for education that would set the stage for adoption states and open territories, much of the 2016 year was dominated by rulemaking after the ESSA’s passage. As schools re-focus their efforts on their curriculums as a whole, interest will likely be spurred in states and districts for the adoption of instructional materials for the arts and career and technical education.

Chromebooks & the Rise of Digital Learning

Tech companies continue to test the waters by transforming the learning process for teachers and students. According to an Educational Marketer exclusive story, 44% of PreK-12 educators and 46% of students use Chromebooks, making it the most popular device in classroom.

Digital learning devices have a promising future in the PreK-12 instructional materials industry. McGraw-Hill Education, one of the market’s most well-known publishers, recently acquired Redbird Advanced in a transaction at $12 million. Redbird offers courses in K-12 math, language arts, and writing and virtual professional development programs for educators. McGraw-Hill, which has made adaptive learning for personalization a cornerstone of its education strategy, said the acquisition was aimed at strengthening that strategy.

Simba expects more robotics and virtual reality components appearing in the instructional materials market as K-12 education makes it digital transition. Technologies such as search engines and social media, which are already integrating into the classroom, will pave the way for many diversifying teaching styles. What remains to be seen is who, or what, will take up the mantle of central power over regulated educative technology. Simba’s Publishing for the PreK-12 Market, 2017-2018 analyzes the coming standardization and interoperability of technology in PreK-12 education.

Professional Development, Fidelity of Implementation Important in Adoption Cycles

The key to any approach to a district, particularly with software, is showing what problem the district has that your product solves, Robert Copeland, superintendent of the Lower Merion (Ardmore, PA) school district, told school publishers in May at the Association of American Publishers’ PreK-12 Learning group’s conference.

According to Copeland, vendors would do well to present their materials through intermediaries such as regional educational services agencies. However, there are few products superintendents can name as being representative of digital learning’s full potential.

“Teachers look for things that are handy, and without a lot of money to spend, that means OER,” said Kent Sweigart, the district’s director of technology. “OER can’t be ignored,” said Sweigart. “I don’t know how you’re going to work with that going forward.” If a product requires fidelity of implementation, the vendor needs to provide the PD to make that happen.

Big Three Publishers Continue to Lead Full-Course Materials

Full-course curriculums are gaining traction in K-12 Education: according to a Babson Survey Research Group Publication cited in an Electronic Education Report story, more than three-quarters (77%) of school districts have adopted at least one full-course curriculum in the past three years. The industry’s three biggest publishers – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Boston), McGraw-Hill Education (NY), and Pearson (London/NY) – produce the most popular offerings in this market segment.

Districts take in to account many publishers when adopting full-course materials, but more than 40% of school districts cited HMH, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson when listing publishers with whom they conduct business. When adopting new curriculums, most school districts cite the need to meet changing education standards as their primary reason. Many districts are replacing curricula resources that have been in use for at least six to ten years.

School districts cite comprehensive content, working with existing technology, and cost as the biggest three factors impacting their purchasing decisions. Cost is, as might be expected, far more important among districts with high rates of children in poverty; 52% of them saw it is critical; 26% of those with low child poverty rates say it is critical.

OERs in course materials adoptions are still finding their way into industry consciousness. Awareness and adoption of specific OERs is higher than awareness of the term ‘OER’ itself. Many districts have reviewed and adopted OER curricula material, but remain unaware that the curricula are actually OER. Confusion remains between the terms ‘open’ and ‘free’, and some districts assume that all free resources are OER, and possibly vice-versa.

Increasing Connectivity Spurs Digital Learning

94% of school districts have met the minimum internet bandwidth requirement of one hundred kilobits per second per student. Speaking with Electronic Education Report, founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway Evan Marwell said that the rising percentage of school districts ready for digital learning – 30% in 2013 to 94% in 2017 – is essential to unlocking opportunities for educators who want to personalize their teaching styles in order to make curriculums more engaging and effective.

According to Marwell, students can now access previously unavailable instructive content and choices. Innovation in technology such as virtual field trips will help educators to better personalize their instruction. More collaborative learning is also occurring in wikis, where educators instruct students to post their work and receive feedback in an effort to highlight technology’s engagement factor.

“We learned the affordability of broadband is probably the single most important thing in terms of making sure that schools can get the broadband they need today and in the future,” Marwell said. The CEO is optimistic that broadband will extend to the remaining students without high-speed internet connectivity, and believes the increasing ease of sharing large amounts of information and partnering through educative consortia will play a part in expanding digital learning’s connectivity.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai offered alternative approaches to the 2014 modernization that raised concern among some advocates for school connectivity. Pai now says fiber to rural communities and approving administration of E-Rate are key objectives. Marwell said many are on pins and needles about Pai will do, believing wholesale changes are not On a more positive note, a total of forty-five governors have committed to upgrading their schools for 21st century education, allocating nearly $200 million in state matching funds for special construction to provide harder-to-reach students with high-speed internet connections.


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Latest Research in PreK-12 Instructional Materials

Publishing for the PreK-12 Market, 2017-2018:

As states devise their instructional materials implementation plans, the industry is devising ways to assist educators in putting plans to work and helping students achieve their goals. Simba Information’s report, Publishing for the PreK-12 Market, 2017-2018, projects that the PreK-12 instructional materials market will reach $8.75 billion in 2017. The report examines the challenges confronting industry publishers such as the push toward personalized learning, revamped testing policies, the implementation of new standards in STEM education, and the refocusing on career and technical education.

Instructional Materials Disappoint in 2016

The PreK-12 instructional materials market saw sales decline by more than 1.5% between 2015 and 2016, and the market was never jumpstarted fully in 2016. The market’s largest segment is in basal curriculum materials, and tends to dictate the overall market trends. Because of the basal curriculum segment’s downward pull, even the other market categories’ growth did not help overall market growth. The only other market segment to experience declining sales was in video, which slid 1.2%.

2016 National Instructional Materials Adoption Scorecard and 2017 Outlook:

Simba Information’s 2016 National Instructional Materials Adoption Scorecard and 2017 Outlook provides individual analyses of each adoption states, with sales broken down by publisher by grade segments. In 2016, the federal government set its sights on rulemaking around the ESSA. The states, which mostly continued to pump funding into PreK-12 education, went to work on how to best implement the act.. To cap off the year’s highlights, the presidential election set expectations for change even higher. And the use of technology and OERs, continually growing in popularity and prominence, is fomenting more change. In terms of federal policy for education that would set the stage for adoption states and open territories, much of the 2016 year was dominated by rulemaking after the ESSA’s passage. As schools re-focus their efforts on their curriculums as a whole, interest will likely be spurred in states and districts for the adoption of instructional materials for the arts and career and technical education.

State Tests Grow in Uncertain Environment

State-level tests - the high stakes summative tests which states and districts use for accountability purposes - accounted for nearly half of the entire testing market in 2016. State testing is the third-largest segment of the total market for PreK-12 instructional materials, and is undergoing significant change. Uncertainties over federal funding, variations in state demand for instructional materials, and shifting public sentiment contribute to the segment’s slow growth.

Division Between Adoption States and Open Territories

The adoptions landscape has been divided into adoption states and open territories for some time. This division has been significant to the market’s publishers as well; adoption states review and approve lists of core materials at the state level; open territories have no state-approved list of materials. Local control of instructional materials themselves has become something of a catchphrase since the 2008 recession. Simba considers a group of eighteen states (Alabama, CA, FL, ID, IA, KT, LA, MI, NM, NC, OK, OR, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV) as the core of the adoption market, and which undertake some type of review and recommendation process for instructional materials at the state level.

Courseware Generates Promising Market Growth

Publishing for the PreK-12 Market, 2017-2018 estimates that courseware sales increased by 3.7% from 2015 to 2016. This niche segment is seeing more courseware providers enter the market and offering more products. As schools provide more digital hardware in their classrooms, delivering courseware products will likely become easier. States are approving an increasing amount of digital programs in their instructional materials adoptions and enacting priorities that will require or encourage students to enroll in online courses. Many school districts are expecting supplemental resources to align more closely with standards and integrate – via a single sign-n, for example – with other materials used. Because both digital and print supplements are vulnerable to OERs, standards alignment requirements bode well for courseware’s longevity. Nonetheless, digital supplements’ growth has been slow, up by just 1.4% in 2016 from 2015.

Adoption Cycles:

The lucrative disciplines of reading and math are constants in the PreK-12 instructional materials market. For publishers, peaks in the adoption cycle where several states adopt these disciplines are their high points. The most recent of these high points was in 2014, when seven states had language arts programs up for adoptions, while five states had programs for math. California, Texas, and Florida schools were adopting new materials in one or more of these subjects as well as in science.


A Final Note

The PreK-12 market landscape has been evolving for more than a decade. And the educational publishing industry that serves it has been striving to change, too – always looking to be ahead of the change but something playing catch-up. With the spread of computing devices in schools, personalization of learning and development of tools and materials to facilitate that learning approach continue to be the focus of industry development. Competition for legacy publishers will come as more and more technology companies like Apple and Google and Amazon continue to move into the education market, seeking more and more to transform how teachers teach and how students learn. With that heightened competition, success in the K-12 education industry is heading toward facilitating instruction more than focusing on the content of instruction. Overall, Simba Information projects the $8.75 billion PreK-12 instructional materials market will grow at a 2.5% compound annual rate.