The current adoption market segment remains in flux and is continually adapting and changing. The 19 states that still adopt textbooks in a variety of curriculum areas are loosening their requirements. Some states, such as Florida, have passed laws that allow districts to purchase “off-list” materials.
There are many factors disrupting the adoption market. The movement away from the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is affecting the development of instructional materials for this market. Florida, a key adoption state, is a good example of a state that has moved away from the CCSS and is now developing its own standards for English language arts and mathematics, thus impacting upcoming adoptions in those curriculum areas. North Carolina is also currently reviewing its adoption process.
According to EdWeek.org, states aligned to the CCSS fall out as follows:
- 35 kept CCSS adoption (34 states and District of Columbia)
- 11 announced a major rewrite or replacement of CCSS
- 4 never adopted CCSS
- 1 adopted CCSS only in English language arts (ELA)
As key states enter another round of adoptions, much of the market is in flux. The conflict over implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), along with policy changes and the growing interest in digital content and new types of instruction are affecting the decisions that state education departments and schools are making about their instructional materials. States must decide what to adopt (textbooks, supplemental programs, digital products, or a combination of materials), while publishers need to determine what best practices and content states demand, including what standards to align to.
When the Common Core was first developed in 2010 to level the education playing field, it was adopted by forty-six states along with the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories. Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia did not adopt the CCSS. By the fall of 2017, ten more states dropped out (Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) with a major standards rewrite or replacement, while Minnesota chose to adopt the Common Core only in English Language Arts.
Though thirty-six states are still using the CCSS, it is difficult to determine how uniform the application of the standards is across all the states. It is also not clear whether the revised standards that states are developing differ significantly from the Common Core. Interestingly, most of the states that never adopted the CCSS or later repealed them are also textbook adoption states. To further complicate the situation, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced in a recent speech that Common Core is dead at the U.S. Department of Education.
A recent White House report states that the textbook market is valued at about $7-8 billion, with California, Florida, and Texas being the key adoption states. However, the textbook adoption market is changing.
The Old-School Textbook Adoption Buying Pattern
In the past, publishers focused most of their textbook development efforts on two states: Texas and California. Textbooks for these two states would often become templates for textbooks sold nationally, but according to a recent EdWeek article, California, and Texas no longer dictate content in textbooks. Currently, there are 19 states that adopt textbooks in a variety of curriculum areas, and publishers are finding that these individual states want customized textbooks.
What Factors are Driving Change in Textbook Adoption?
According to a 2016 White House report, the U.S. spends over $1.3 trillion on education expenditures. And the instructional materials market for K-12, which includes state adoptions, is over $19 billion. In large states, such as Texas, it makes sense to customize a national program. With smaller states, a calculation needs to be made: does the potential revenue justify the expense of customization? What’s the best way to customize for a specific state?
Start with Gap Analysis
The first step is a gap analysis to analyze the state standards. For example, in Texas, we would compare the TEKS to the standards the national program was aligned to, usually the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This is a bit ironic, given that Texas never adopted CCSS. A gap analysis relative to CCSS is a tool you can use again and again as you develop plans for the many states that are moving away from CCSS or adapting it to create their own customized standards. Ultimately, the gap analysis answers important financial questions about the scope of work required for a successful customized program.