Posts Tagged "alignment"

Five Tips for Reviewing the Alignment of Materials

Over the summer, many educators engage in instructional planning, including verifying the alignment of the materials they intend to use during the upcoming school year. Reviewing the alignment of materials is great professional development for educators. Team Meeting

Having reviewed well over 2000 materials for alignment to various state and Advanced Placement standards, we share these five pointers to assist in your alignment reviews: [Read More …]

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5 Ways Learning List’s Alignment Reports Help You Get the Biggest “Bang for Your Buck” from Your Materials

Learning List’s alignment reports help teachers select materials that are aligned to the standards they need to teach.  Then, like a GPS through the product, our alignment reports show teachers specific citations in the material that they can use to address each standard fully.GPS

Learning List’s Alignment Reports

Our alignment reports show (a) the percentage of standards to which the material is aligned, (b) the standards to which the material is aligned and is not aligned, and (c) specific citations (e.g., pages, lessons videos) that have been independently verified to be aligned to each standard.[1]  [Read More …]

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Build Your Own …

This post is the second in the series, “Three Critical Trends in Instructional Materials.”

An increasing number of districts are forgoing comprehensive textbooks in favor of building their own resources. In fact, a California superintendent told us that he had put aside $7 million to pay his teachers to develop their own materials. Administrators in favor of building their own resources say the exercise will engender greater buy-in among teachers and produce better resources for students.  Others question whether the skills that make a person a great teacher are the same skills necessary to design instructional materials. As one person suggested, “I’m a good driver, but I couldn’t build a car.”

Having reviewed almost 2500 resources, Learning List staff have seen and learned much about instructional materials. If your district is considering or developing instructional resources, we share the following observations to help inform your methodology:

  • Focus – Materials should focus on the major work of the grade.  Distracting content should be limited and the materials should include multiple citations (e.g., pages, lessons, videos) aligned to each priority standard. For example, if you’re in a Common Core state, do you have multiple citations for teachers to use to teach each Major, Supporting, and Additional standard or each of the Critical Areas of Focus? If you are in Texas, do you have at least a few citations addressing each Readiness, Supporting and Process standard?
  • Coherence – Citations should build and reinforce (within and across grades and subjects) a deeper understanding of concepts and skills articulated in the standards and their application in the real world. Does your material contain real world examples and activities to engage your students and show the relevance of the content and skills they are learning?
  • Rigor – The citations should be grade-level appropriate and rigorous, as opposed to difficult.
  • Horizontal and Vertical Alignment – Citations should be verified to be aligned to the standards. Alignment is a unique skill set.  Very accomplished teachers are not necessarily adept at doing alignment work.  Moreover, alignment is an inherently subjective endeavor. In order to ensure that the material your district is developing is aligned to the standards: (1) have at least two teachers, who are good at aligning material to standards, review the alignment of each citation incorporated in the material, and (2) have a method of reconciling differences of opinion among those teachers.
  • Adaptions/Instructional Resources – The material your teachers develop must be “accessible” to all students and teachers.  Consider whether/how the material will help teachers differentiate instruction for students with differing abilities. Consider also whether all teachers have the skills and knowledge to use the materials you are creating effectively.  For example, will professional development be necessary? Does the material have content supports and notes to help all teachers present the content in a similar way?
  • Maintenance –Teachers will quickly get frustrated if links in the material do not work and will lose faith in the material. It is imperative to the success of your Build Your Own initiative to have a regular maintenance schedule to ensure that the embedded links are working.

Building your own materials will be a time consuming and painstaking process. But, if done well, it is likely to produce resources that your teachers will use and that will prepare your students with the knowledge and skills the standards require them to learn.  Hopefully, the observations provided above will help you build an efficient and effective “Build Your Own” methodology.

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The Three Cs of Alignment

One of the topics we are often asked to present at conferences is how to align a material to state standards. Before you begin the hard work of aligning materials, you must ensure that teachers understand the knowledge and skills each Student Expectation requires students to learn.

Each Student Expectation contains three parts, which we call the “Three Cs of the Standard”: the content, context and cognitive demand.

  • The Content of the Expectation states what students are required to learn. The content is typically the noun(s) of the Student Expectation.Three Cs
  • The Context of the Expectation is where/when the learning should be taking place.
    • In the Common Core State Standards, the context may be articulated in the Expectation itself, or the Cluster or Domain may articulate the context for the Expectation.
    • In the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the context may be articulated in the Student Expectation or in the Knowledge and Skills Statement.
    • In ELA, for example, the context of an Expectation is a particular genre. In social studies, the context for an Expectation is often the time period or type of history (e.g., US history, World history, Texas history, etc.). For science, the context is where the learning should be taking place (e.g., in the laboratory, in field investigations, on the Earth’s surface).
  • The Cognitive Demand is what the Expectation requires students to be able to do. The cognitive demand is typically the verb(s) of the Student Expectation.

To determine whether a citation (i.e., a page, unit, lesson) in the material is aligned to a Student Expectation, you have to make sure that the citation addresses all three Cs of the Student Expectation. This may be more difficult than it sounds, because Student Expectations are often both compound and complex sentences. Thus, an Expectation typically contains several nouns and several verbs.

If a single citation does not address all of the nouns and verbs contained in an Expectation, teachers must be aware of the citation’s deficit or else their students may not learn all of the knowledge and skills the Expectation requires. Teachers can adjust their instruction to make up for the material’s deficit or assign multiple citations that align to different portions of the Expectation to ensure that students are exposed the entire Expectation.


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The Myth of 100% Alignment

Learning List has reviewed the alignment of over 2500 materials.  After reviewing a material’s alignment, we calculate the percentage of standards to which the material is aligned.

When you log into, you will see that several products have an alignment percentage of 100%. An alignment percentage of 100%, does NOT mean that every citation (e.g., page, lesson, video) listed in the publisher’s correlation was found to be aligned to the relevant standard. Rather, 100% alignment means that Learning List’s subject matter experts found that every standard was fully addressed at least once in the material.* aligned_nonalignedv2


Learning List’s subject matter experts review multiple citations for alignment to each standard.** As this table reflects, typically one or two of the citations reviewed are found to be aligned to the standard; several others are found not to be aligned. In order to be sure that students will learn all the knowledge and skills the standards require, teachers must know which citations are aligned to the standards and which are not.

Learning List’s detailed alignment reports show (1) which citations (from the publisher’s correlation) were reviewed for alignment to each standard, (2) which of those were found to be aligned to the standard, and (3) which were found to not to be aligned. Moreover, a reviewer’s comment accompanies each non-aligned citation to explain precisely which part of the standard the citation failed to address.

These alignment reports make it easier for teachers to assign citations that have been verified to be aligned to each standard. If teachers want to assign a non-aligned citation, the reviewer’s comment explains how they should adjust their instruction to make up for the material’s deficit(s). This quick video provides an example.

Preparing your students for success requires you to be a critical consumer of the instructional materials you are using. The alignment percentage of a material alone does not tell the whole story. Even when a material has an alignment percentage of 100%, there are likely citations in the publisher’s correlation that are not aligned to the standards. The alignment reports on provide the critical information you need to use your instructional materials effectively in your instruction.

*Learning List recognizes that a single “aligned” citation may not be instructionally sufficient to help students “master” the standard.  Some level of repetition is typically required for students to understand, internalize, and master content and skills. That is the reason Learning List reviews multiple citations for alignment to each standard.

**If the publisher’s correlation lists fewer than three citations as aligned to a standard, Learning List’s subject matter experts review all of the citations listed. If the publisher’s correlation cites more than three citations as being aligned to a standard, Learning List employs a “spot check” verification methodology – at least three and up to eight citations are reviewed for alignment to the standard. If teachers want to use a citation that Learning List has not reviewed, they would be advised to check the alignment of the citation themselves. However, Learning List’s alignment report serves as a guide as to how likely it is that any additional citation would be aligned to that standard.

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