Judging from the education news headlines over the past several years, it would be hard to escape the conclusion that traditional core curriculum is probably doomed. Major publications continually predict “the death of textbooks,” while the traditional “Big Three” publishers have encountered a wide variety of new competitors.
While the signs for core curriculum have been concerning, the education world is abuzz about the potential of new digital tools, which largely fall into the supplemental space. In the eyes of many investors, this is where the market is rapidly heading — but it is worth taking a step back to ask the question: what are teachers actually using in their classrooms? In particular, as many companies introduce subscription-oriented products, and as the tools to track teacher usage of the products districts are purchasing become more widely available, usage will likely become increasingly important.
EY-Parthenon sought to answer this question through extensive primary research with teachers across the country. Our work began by asking 40 teachers from around the country to log an “average week” in terms of classroom and planning materials utilized. Our team then utilized the log data to generate a series of hypotheses, which were then tested in a nationwide, online survey of teachers. The survey was launched in June 2019 and received 836 responses from teachers of all ages, experience levels, grade levels, content areas and school/district types. We asked teachers about the following:
- Usage of different types of classroom materials (and how this has changed over time)
- Perception of the effectiveness of different types of materials
- Habits for sourcing lesson materials and planning
- Why and how different types of materials are used
From this research, and from our analysis of the data, several key “headlines” emerged, which are shared in this report.