Common Core Standards and Educational Publishing

The Common Core Standards are being implemented in more and more states, changing the expectations in educational publishing and causing publishers to adapt. Recently, I attended an interesting webinar hosted by the Copyright Clearance Center, called Innovation and Disruptions in K–12 Educational Publishing.

Common Core

But first, what is the Common Core Standard? It includes rigorous standardized goals for English and Math for grades K–12. Adoption is voluntary, and so far, 45 states, D.C., four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the standards.

However, according to the Copyright Clearance Center, Common Core hit some snags last year.

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All but Texas, Virgina, Alaska, Nebraska, and half of Minnesota are not using Common Core. In MN, the schools use the English Language Arts standards but not the Math standard. The Copyright Clearance Center said there is currently no federally or congressional mandate here, but there is some U.S. Deptarment of Education funding.

The Common Core Standards does not include any social studies or science. But, the Next Generation Science Studies is working on implementing a standard, via national academies and several science organizations, according to the webinar.

Educational Market Drivers and Trends

About $9 billion is spent every year in the U.S. on K-12 instructional resources, which accounts for less than 1 percent of total K-12 expenditures, according to the webinar.

Copyright Clearance Center said these resources are designed to help with digital transitions, teacher support, and Common Core implementation. There are five market drivers:

  1. Enrollments/demographics
  2. Funding
  3. Changes in curriculum standards
  4. Educational trend
  5. Adoption processes

Also according to the webinar, numbers two through five have been disrupted since 2008. For example, iPads have been introduced to some school systems.

Some of the K-12 trends and innovations covered in the webinar include:

  • higher standards
  • new instructional strategies (such as digital learning and personalized learning)
  • educator evaluation systems
  • increasing focus on early childhood education

Some classrooms have personalized learning, where different students are at different levels for different subjects. It’s a change from textbook learning, where everyone learns at same pace, to allow for greater attention to be given to personal differences. Another trend in high school and college is the flipped classroom, where students hear the course lecture online at home, and then in class the instructor helps with homework. These are all part of the blended learning model.

How Publishers are Changing

Because of these trends, educational publishers have created new digital programs, learning management platforms, and Common Core products. Children’s book publishers have also been working to incorporate Common Core in their titles. Scholastic’s Storia app, for example, implements the Common Core in the enhanced activities it adds to each of the books in the app.

Neil Goff wrote an informative article on Digital Book World about Common Core, giving publishers pointers on how to increase sales to schools:

  • Have the books “leveled” (i.e. analyze their content to assess their reading level) so that educators have a sense of the grade level at which the books are likely to be useful. There are several different leveling systems; one of the most common— and the one likely to give you the most bang for the buck—is the Lexile system, developed by Metametrics, Inc.

  • In your marketing materials, organize your books into bundles—by grade level, topic, theme or genre.

  • Consider creating a Common Core section of your website or separate sell sheets to highlight the Common Core–friendly elements of your list.

  • Market your list not just to K-12 schools but also to the wholesalers that serve the K-12 market, such as Booksource.

Additionally Houghton Mifflin Harcourt recently announced it is working with the math curriculum provider Big Ideas Learning to implement the Big Ideas Math 2015 Common Core High School series. The series works to give students a deeper understanding of math concepts, and includes interactive tools.

According to the press release,

The launch marks the introduction of the Dynamic Assessment and Progress Monitoring Tool to the Big Ideas Math series, enabling educators to track and monitor student progress throughout the school year.  Its adaptive testing features and additional problem sets directly correlate to specific Common Core State Standards and lessons within the Big Ideas programs.

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