Featured Article: “‘Science of reading’ movement spells financial trouble for publisher Heinemann”

Heinemann published some of the most widely used programs for teaching reading in U.S. elementary schools. Its roster of authors — including Lucy Calkins, Gay Su Pinnell, Irene Fountas, Jennifer Serravallo and the late Marie Clay — helped to define how literacy was taught to two generations of students. Their work also helped Heinemann rack up higher and higher sales on an unbroken growth streak from 2006 through 2019.

But recent data suggests school districts are turning away from Heinemann. The company’s 2023 sales were down about 75% compared to what they were in 2019, according to current numbers from GovSpend, a database of government spending.

(These are preliminary figures. GovSpend says there can be a six-month lag in obtaining records, so school districts may still report additional purchases for late 2023. That data is unlikely to change the trend, however, because winter is historically the company’s slowest quarter.)