As the year comes to a close, you are likely deep in the middle of marketing and sales planning for 2023 – plotting out your themes and campaigns as well as the conferences and events where you will meet with educators. We’ve all learned over the past few years that everything can change in a minute, but here are five K-12 education trends for 2023 to help you navigate the new year:
- Continued Focus on Unfinished Learning
While, in many ways, disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic is in the rear-view mirror for schools, they are left with the need to mitigate high levels of learning loss. A majority of states saw scores decline for fourth- and eighth-grade students in mathematics and reading between 2019 and 2022, according to the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.1 Luckily, there is still about $145 billion in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) for schools to invest in overcoming this challenge. A recent survey by McKinsey & Company revealed that over the next three school years districts expect to shift more funding toward addressing unfinished learning and persistent staffing challenges.2 There is great opportunity here for education companies that offer intervention programs, such as high-dosage tutoring, to support schools as they strive to get their students back on track.
- Increased Parental Involvement in Schools
The insights that remote learning gave parents into their children’s education resulted in a significant increase in interest in being involved in their schools. In fact, parental involvement in education was a topic of discussion during the recent mid-term elections and some states, such as Pennsylvania, are even considering legislation to codify how and when parents should be involved. Family engagement in schools is positive. It not only enhances academic performance, but also has a positive influence on students’ attitude towards school, classroom conduct, self-esteem, absenteeism, and motivation. However, it can be challenging for educators (who we all know are always pressed for time) to support increased levels of parental involvement. When you market your products and services to schools, think carefully about what kinds of tools and resources you can provide educators to help them explain your offerings to parents or involve parents in their children’s use of your programs.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives
DEI in education used to mean providing curriculum for students with disabilities, but today it expands to include tools and materials that enable learning for students from all socioeconomic classes. According to a 2020 study by the U.S National Center for Education Statistics, less than 10 percent of students from low-income families have an internet connection at home.3 While some COVID-related programs helped to mitigate that number, it still remains too low. It is helpful to schools if you consider this audience when developing and marketing your products and services. If there is a homework component of your digital program, is there a way that a student can use it at home without an internet connection? These considerations are particularly important when marketing to Title I schools, where poverty levels begin at 40 percent.
- Cybersecurity Concerns
High-profile cyberattacks against school districts are on the rise and school administrators are making safeguards a high priority both for the data they collect and data your programs and products house. It is important to clearly communicate the types of safeguards that are part of your digital offerings to educators who use them or are considering purchasing them. Do you provide multi-factor authentication? How do you protect student data? How often do you update your programs to prevent against emerging Ransomware threats? This is all critical information that education customers, particularly CIOs, need when considering purchasing digital programs as well as while they are using them. Just updated this year, MDR’s district titles include four new technology job titles from more than 13,000 school districts, that will help you reach this audience with information about how your company protects student data and other information.
- Hybrid Education Conferences Are the Norm
Education conferences are back to normal…well, maybe not completely. While the vast majority of conferences are hosting live events again, many have also kept the virtual component because it allows them to reach more attendees and generate increased revenue. This means that companies marketing to education need to take a hybrid approach to developing creative ideas for engaging with customers and prospects at conferences. To be successful, it is important that your branding, messaging, and other conference marketing activities are integrated across both live and virtual events and present a unified image to educators.
We know this post likely only scratches the surface of the important trends and challenges that K-12 schools will face in the new year. And the experience of the past few years tells us that it is likely that some completely unanticipated opportunities will emerge. MDR is here to help support you as you develop your 2023 marketing campaigns, and throughout the year as you pivot to map a path to success.