K-12 Education Soon to Be Prime for Startup Disruption

open_book_from_istockK-12 may well be the biggest untapped niche in education, leaving plenty of room for startups to revamp the current system.

According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the U.S. primary and secondary education industry is worth nearly $1.5 trillion, “roughly 10 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, or the second-biggest sector after healthcare.”

So why haven’t startups tapped this market before? Because it’s complicated. SVBJ calls K-12 education a “complex animal, governed by larger teachers’ union and a web of state, local and federal funding and regulations.” Moreover, education startups have to fight for position with larger corporations such as Pearson and McGraw-Hill that have already staked out their corner of the market.

Yet, startups could get an unexpected boost from Common Core standards. According to SVBJ, “The standards are not rigid and rather ideally designed to evolve as students learn, necessitating new evaluation tools.”

And as the deadline to implement Common Core approaches, school districts may be open to the prospect of new platforms for teaching as well. Will kindergarten classrooms shift to an online-only model? It’s doubtful. But startups still have a good chance at disruption by offering schools tech, rather than text, in the coming months.

Melissa Steffan is a D.C.-based freelance journalist who tweets at @melissasteffan.

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