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National K-12 Ed-tech Survey Reveals Widespread Gaps in Leadership Capacity that Undermine Industry Growth

Ed-tech Leadership Collective report highlights vulnerabilities in management competencies and key skill areas for talent development


A new national survey conducted by the Ed-tech Leadership Collective identified persistent gaps in talent development that are hampering growth for many K-12 ed-tech companies. During a period of unprecedented investment in the ed-tech industry, more than half (57%) of the ed-tech executives surveyed are having difficulty scaling their business because of their middle managers’ lack of experience. Three-quarters (74%) of executives indicated that their middle managers have limited, little, or no experience scaling an organization.

Conducted in December 2022, the survey shares the perspectives of 145 ed-tech leaders regarding talent gaps, business risks and employee pain points associated with talent development in the U.S. K-12 ed-tech industry. The Ed-tech Leadership Collective has published the survey findings in a report titled, “The State of Ed-tech Talent Development: Executives’ Insights Regarding the Challenges of Scaling a Business.

Respondents expressed concerns regarding the risk associated with their middle managers’ level of experience, but also acknowledged not doing enough to support their success. Two-thirds (66%) of middle-managers surveyed acknowledged that they were in the biggest job of their life. This not only presents obstacles to growth but also creates an alarming level of business risk. Overwhelmingly, 82% of all company leaders indicated that the amount of mission-critical work in the hands of middle managers represents a business risk for their company if those employees were to struggle. Despite these risks, only 15% of C-level executives were confident that their high-potential employees were receiving the mentoring and support they need in order to reach their full potential.

“The intensity of investment in ed-tech has resulted in growth expectations that are outpacing companies’ ability to cultivate their emerging leaders,” stated Collin Earnst, managing partner of the Ed-tech Leadership Collective. “Executives are beginning to recognize these vulnerabilities and acknowledge their gaps in leadership development.”

The full report from the Ed-tech Leadership Collective includes additional data regarding:

  • Confidence in leadership depth and succession plans
  • Management competencies for emerging leaders
  • Lack of mentoring and constructive feedback for middle managers
  • Pain points associated with departmental siloing
  • Leadership support for members of historically marginalized populations
  • Preferred methods and resources for supporting leadership development

“Leadership depth has become a competitive advantage and a gating factor for company growth,” continued Earnst. “In order to sustain aggressive growth expectations, ed-tech companies need to make a commitment to actively cultivate talent who can lead, communicate and collaborate. Ultimately, this becomes the key to successfully delivering on their mission and making an impact in K-12 education.”

About the Ed-tech Leadership Collective The Ed-tech Leadership Collective is a membership organization for people who are committed not only to growing their business but also to growing as leaders and individuals. Through industry-specific talent-development programs, members receive strategic guidance and constructive feedback on not only “what” they are doing but also on “who” they are becoming as leaders. Using a rigorous, structured approach, the Collective helps high-potential employees develop the leadership skills and contextual knowledge necessary to step up and contribute amidst increasingly high expectations. The Ed-tech Leadership Collective’s members and executive coaches bring sophisticated understanding of the nuances of the K-12 market and a deep understanding of the ed-tech vernacular. To learn more about the Ed-tech Leadership Collective, please visit