Educational software is one of the biggest sources of wasted spending in K-12, according to a new study evaluating spending in U.S. K-12 schools.
The study from Glimpse K12 tracked 200,000 curriculum software licenses purchased by 275 schools during the 2017-2018 school year. The company used its eROI platform to measure how many of the software licenses were actually being used by teachers and students.
On average, 67 percent of software licenses went unused, though in some cases the number was as high as 90 percent. This translates to approximately $2 million in wasted spending across all 275 schools during the academic year.
Following educational software (67 percent), professional development (48 percent) and printed materials (28 percent) are the biggest sources of wasted spending in K-12.
Looking at education expenditures through an ROI lens in the context of student outcomes, Glimpse K12’s analysis highlights how technology is by far the most under-used resource. Because the education technology software space alone totals $8.4 billion dollars, this means that over $5.6 billion dollars may be wasted each year.
How can leaders curb wasted spending in K-12 schools?
“To hone in on the root cause of unused and wasted resources, school districts need to ask two important foundational questions,” says Adam Pearson, Glimpse K12’s co-founder.
“Do our teachers really want these digital tools, and are we ready to implement the technology? If the answer to both is yes, administrators must ask themselves, ‘Are we prepared to set clear expectations for usage and implementation fidelity?’ If the answer is no, districts have no assurance students will receive the benefits of these resources, which leads to ineffective and wasted spending.”
There are steps school and district administrators can take to avoid under-used resources and wasted spending in K-12. Measuring ROI is a critical first step, because ROI platforms help district and school administrators capture all of the money allocated to purchasing software licenses, align these expenditures with goals and objectives, and evaluate these activities in the context of student outcomes.
When school leaders measure ROI, they are better able to track and manage data, clearly communicate their goals and expectations for technology use, and evaluate what works and what does not. All of these help improve student outcomes.