On August 15th The Texas Education Agency released 2016 accountability ratings. Student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps, and postsecondary readiness are all part of the Texas performance index framework. Many states use the same, or similar, accountability measures. If closing performance gaps is an area of concern, a good place to start is by checking the alignment of instructional materials. 

Students won’t learn what they are not taught. For your students to learn the knowledge and skills the standards require, then your materials (either independently or in the aggregate) must be aligned to 100% of the standards for the grade/subject. You may not have considered that your instructional materials could be part of the problem, particularly if you used state adopted materials. However, keep in mind in Texas, as in other states, “state adopted” does not necessarily mean aligned to 100% of the standards. Moreover, if you are using supplemental or RtI products, are the materials you are using aligned to the standards you are using them to teach? Supplemental products are often not designed to address 100% of the standards. For further information about the importance of alignment see “New (Free) Whitepaper: Why Alignment Matters”.

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Another issue to consider is access to the core instruction in your instructional materials. If you are using online materials do they have internet access to access the core instruction outside of the school day? Publishers often claim that their online materials are downloadable or printable for students who do not have internet access at home. But is the core instruction or are only the supplemental activities available offline?  More often than not, we find that only the supplemental activities are available offline but the core instructional content is not. This can lead to gaps in student learning particularly for economically disadvantaged students who have access to fewer high quality instructional resources and learning opportunities outside of the school day.   

As your district works to close the achievement gap, Learning List’s detailed alignment reports, comparison tools, and technology reviews can assist your work. Call us to find out more.