5 Key Trends to Watch in K-12 Education in 2021

K-12 education trends 2021The COVID-19 pandemic had a swift and dramatic impact on schools across the U.S., but more changes are expected in the future.

In its latest report PreK-12 Policy & Budget Outlook, 2021-2022, Simba Information, a leading market research firm and division of MarketResearch.com, identified five education trends that are becoming a priority for federal, state, and local governments.

Following is a brief overview of the education trends covered in the report.

1. The Shift to Online Learning

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to digital learning and ushered in new models of hybrid and remote education. At both the federal and state level, government organizations worked to facilitate the rapid transition.

The U.S. Department of Education published a Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide to share best practices on how to leverage digital tools.

Meanwhile, state education departments rolled out new integrated digital learning solutions in partnership with educational technology providers. For example, the South Carolina Department of Education partnered with Discovery Education to provide standards-aligned content and ready-to-use digital lessons for students and educators.

2. A Push for More Computer Science

In the report, Simba Information also highlighted a growing number of initiatives (and increasing funding) to encourage students to take computer science courses to help prepare them for in-demand careers in technology and engineering.

While the U.S. Department of Education has promoted STEM education and computer science through its grants, the push for computer science education has mostly come from the state and local levels. In 2020, 28 states collectively passed 42 policies to support computer science education, according to Code.org.

3. A Strong Emphasis on School Climate

Many school districts also want to promote a safe, positive learning environment and reduce the risk of bullying and emotional distress — a goal that has become even more urgent given the rising stress and depression levels amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Efforts to support school climate include requirements for character development or social and emotional learning, mental health identification and referral services, and the collection of school climate survey data from students.

4. Growing Interest in Career and Technical Education

There has been increasing interest in providing more career and technical education (CTE) options to students. Many statewide plans to boost career and technical education include the following components:

  • Providing counseling and exposure to CTE disciplines
  • Tracking industry and skilled-labor needs
  • Expanding professional development opportunities for CTE teachers
  • Dual enrollment programs with community and four-year colleges

5. Rising Support for School Choice

In recent years, the most significant alternative to traditional public schools has been the growth of charter schools.

Since the pandemic led to widespread school closures, public support for school choice has increased. New legislation related to school choice has been introduced in more than 15 states in the first two months of 2021, according to Simba Information.

Looking Ahead and Adapting to a Shifting Market

By understanding these varied trends and how they play out across different regions and states, educational publishers, education technology firms, and other service providers can pinpoint new opportunities to grow and better meet the needs of K-12 students and educators.

Where to Learn More

For more in-depth data, see Simba Information’s full report PreK-12 Policy & Budget Outlook, 2021-2022, which covers ongoing trends in elementary and secondary education funding and policy.


About Simba Information

Since 1989, Simba Information has been widely recognized as the leading authority for market intelligence on the education and professional publishing industries. Our experts give you critical analysis derived from years of experience in the field and quality data of the kind only available to industry insiders.


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