The shift to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in K–12 schools across the country has raised the software assessment industry to new heights.
Common Core has been adopted by 43 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, according to the program’s website. These voluntary K–12 benchmarks are designed to keep U.S. schools globally competitive; a key tenet is mandatory online assessments.
Moving assessments online can reduce costs and streamline result acquisition for school administrators, but it requires the right software package. That’s how testing and assessment products became the biggest category in educational technology sales, according to a Nov. 25 report from the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), titled Behind the Data: Testing and Assessment–A PreK-12 U.S. Education Technology Market Report.
“We view the growth of the PreK-12 testing and assessment market segment over the last several years even more remarkable, given that it has occurred in difficult economic times during an overall PreK-12 budget and spending decline,” said Karen Billings, vice president of the SIIA Education Division, in a news release.
According to SIIA’s report, sales for the segment have risen by 57 percent since 2010, to nearly $2.5 billion annually between 2012-2013.
SIIA’s data is based on interviews with executives from 20 companies that have experienced significant sales in the testing and assessment market. Among the key findings of the report, most participants noted four causes for the recent market shift:
- Common Core is changing curricula.
- Rollouts of Common Core are galvanizing activity.
- There is widespread demand for more and higher quality formative assessments.
- Testing and assessments are leading the shift from print to digital formats.
The shift toward online assessments also brings a “broad question about how best to preserve the privacy and security of student data,” according to the report.
The security of student data recently made headlines after millions of student records were sold during bankruptcy proceedings of the educational technology company ConnectEDU. More than 20 million student records were distributed among several companies as ConnectEDU’s assets were segmented and sold, Education Week reports.
To help prevent such situations, more than 50 companies, including Microsoft and Knewton, have agreed to sign a pledge to protect student data. The movement gained momentum after the passage of a California law that restricts how education technology companies can utilize information gathered from the work of students, according to The New York Times.