The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces No Child Left Behind as the nation’s education law, has important implications for ed-tech marketers.
Here are four key takeaways from the law:
1. There’s plenty of money available for technology programs.
The most obvious example is Title IV, Part A of the new law, which calls for $1.6 billion per year in Student Support and Academic Enhancement Grants—and technology is one of three priorities these grants must focus on.
But there are other sources of money for technology programs as well. For instance, Title I will play a key role in supporting school improvement efforts, said Verlan Stephens, managing partner at Agile Education Marketing. The School Improvement Grant program has been folded into Title I, and states can now set aside 7 percent of their Title I dollars for school turnarounds, up from 4 percent. Technology could play an important part in these turnaround projects.
2. The law contains new opportunities for assessment providers.
ESSA contains provisions that could open the door to new forms of state assessment, such as computer-adaptive testing and even performance assessments. What’s more, the law’s focus on local testing pilots that can be expanded statewide creates an opportunity for assessment companies to market to local districts as well, rather than targeting only state-level decision makers. “That’s an interesting change,” Stephens said.
3. Ed-tech marketers should closely watch what’s going on in low-performing schools.
In transferring authority back to states for turning around low-performing schools, the law doesn’t specify how states or school systems should do this—other than to say they must do something. Robert O’Dell, another managing partner at Agile, believes this creates an opportunity for savvy ed-tech marketers. “If states and school districts have tried an approach that isn’t working, they are likely to try something else until they find an approach that is successful,” he said. “That could be an opportunity for another company, like a professional development provider, to come in and suggest its solution.”
4. Your marketing efforts will have to be state-specific.
With states free to develop their own school accountability plans, ed-tech marketers “will have to be intimately familiar with what’s going on in each state,” Stephens said. “Our clients that are most successful are very in tune with each of the states they sell to already—and this becomes even more important now.”