From the Market to the Classroom: How Ed-Tech Products are Procured by School Districts Interacting with Vendors
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School districts are adopting educational technology products at an increasing rate over the years. As more and more products become available, school districts face the challenge of identifying and evaluating programs to meet students’ needs, while ed-tech providers compete for access to decision makers. The present mixed methods study sought to document the process by which school districts discover, evaluate, and acquire ed-tech products and how vendors market and work through this process with districts. Participants included district stakeholders representing 54 school districts and vendors from 47 ed-tech companies. Results indicated that, in contrast to best practices, needs assessments were rarely, if at all conducted, districts and vendors lack a central source of information for product information and evidence of effectiveness, and decisions are often made on small-scale pilot tryouts, peer references, and less often by examining rigorous evaluation evidence. Based on these findings, we offer recommendations for both district and vendor stakeholders to encourage successful procurement of ed-tech products.