Saturday, March 06, 2004

Businesses get ahead under 'No Child Left Behind'

I ran across these media articles on two businesses who are making quite a bit of money off NCLB.

Leapfrog, for one, is doing very well these days.
    LeapFrog SchoolHouse, the school division of LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:LF - News), a leading developer of innovative technology based learning products, today announced an 86 percent net sales increase in 2003, which helped establish it as the fastest growing K-12 instructional software publisher according to Simba Information's Electronic Media for the School Market 2003-2004 report. This extraordinary growth was due in large part to the success of the LeapTrack Assessment & Instruction System, which launched in 2002.
Details here:
    First introduced in June 2002, after extensive pilot research, the system is designed to help educators manage student learning in order to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. With the LeapTrack system, teachers and principals can capture a precise understanding of what students know, and what they need to learn in order to achieve state standards. The differentiated learning paths provided by the LeapTrack system can deliver immediate personalized instruction to each student in the class, thus meeting all students' individual learning needs. The engaging multisensory technology and interactive content in the LeapTrack system and other core products from LeapFrog SchoolHouse help teachers develop early literacy, differentiate instruction and accelerate achievement, as well as address the needs of English language learners and students with special needs.
This British firm is also very happy we've got NCLB to suck off what little money public education has into 'other things'. Pearson is expecting double digit growth, after a flat year:
    Dame Marjorie said the outlook for Pearson's education division was also flat for 2004, due to the low point in the schoolbook buying schedule. However, the company expects the market to be worth more than $900m in 2005, while President Bush's No Child Left Behind programme will also be fully implemented, meaning the division expects double-digit growth that year.

    Pearson's Penguin Group saw operating profits rise 2pc to £91m. It is embarking on a number of projects, including a pilot direct marketing programme in the US and Penguin TV, which will commission children's programmes based largely on its Dorling Kindersley educational books.
Lots of money to be made next year:
    DAME Marjorie Scardino, the chief executive of Pearson, the media and education group, reached for heavenly metaphors yesterday to forecast a stellar outlook for next year.
    “In 2005 a host of planets will align for us,” Dame Marjorie promised. She defined the “planets” as demand in the educational publishing market driven by extra school spending in America.

    Dame Marjorie said that next year American states will increase the value of school book orders — known as new adoptions. In America many states specify which textbooks will be used across all their schools and purchase them in bulk. The sums of money involved will rise from an expected $500 million (£267 million) in this financial year to nearly $1 billion in the next.
I've never really heard of Pearson before. Makes me wonder what sort of connection they have with US bigwigs. Either that, or they're really quite lucky or prescient.

For reference: here is Jay Bullock's piece on the "Assessment Industrial Complex" and Mark A. R. Kleiman's piece on the connection between Kaplan and the Washington Post.