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The K-12 Marketplace: What to Look for in 2016

Rising K-12 Demands for Research, and Useful Ed-Tech Evaluations

Districts are increasingly demanding proof of research or evidence before they invest in ed-tech, according to the feedback we hear from both the K-12 community and vendors. That can mean very different things.

Some school systems, most notably New York City’s iZone, are encouraging “short-cycle” evaluations that consider teachers’ classroom tech needs and apply clear, and independent, standards for reviewing products.

The Jefferson Education Accelerator, a commercial effort that creates a process for allowing vendors to have their products tested in K-12 districts, is also encouraging short-cycle evaluations, as well as more rigorous research for companies that are ready.

The bottom line is that ed-tech companies are well-advised to have plans in place for conducting research and fielding questions about the results, said Bart Epstein, CEO of the Jefferson Education Accelerator.

“There’s definitely an increasing amount of pressure from schools and teachers” to show product effectiveness, Epstein said in a recent interview. At the same time, “Quite a few companies aspire to do rigorous research,” but they aren’t sure where to start, he added. The JEA is one of the organizations trying to help them.

We’ve written in the past about district officials and school leaders becoming savvier and more organized in trying to judge the effectiveness of ed-tech products used in their schools.  The nonprofit Digital Promise recently published a cheat-sheet designed to help K-12 officials judge the research and evaluations companies bring to the table.

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