Posts Tagged "alignment"

Where Do You Stand? The Great Homework Debate

As the school year begins, so does the debate over homework. Educators, parents, and researchers have differing opinions about how much (if any) homework is appropriate. Some people believe homework is useless, if not harmful.  Others favor homework in some cases but not all, depending on the age of the child, the type of homework assigned, and the time it takes to complete. Homework

Whether or not you agree with the concept of assigning of homework, students’ time spent interacting with instructional materials (during the school day or as homework) will lead to improved academic performance only if the materials used are aligned to the standards.

As you plan homework, review the instructional material you plan to use to make sure that it addresses, and is aligned, to the standards you want students to learn. Here’s why: after hearing many teachers complain that they were not getting the promised results from a widely used supplemental material, Learning List reviewed it. Our alignment report revealed the problem:

  • The material was not aligned to 100% of the state standards, which was not surprising because few supplemental materials intend to cover 100% of the standards.
  • Teachers were (unintentionally) using the material to help students practice standards the material did not cover. In fact, the publisher’s correlation did not list those standards as being addressed in the material at all.

In order for homework to be effective it must be aligned to the standards you want students to learn. Otherwise, you are giving students false confidence that they have learned what they need to be successful.

For more information about using instructional materials efficiently and effectively, read these previous posts:

Are You Discussing Instructional Material Alignment in Your PLC?

Are Your Resources Supporting Your Efforts to Close the Achievement Gap?

 

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Introducing Learning List Spec Sheets and Explorer Tool

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For Immediate Release

Contact: Cindy Ryan 512-852-2132

Learning List’s New Spec Sheets and Explorer Tool Help Districts Transition Successfully to a Blended Learning Environment

Austin TX, October 1, 2015 – Learning List launches new Spec Sheet reviews and Explorer tool at the TASA/TASB Convention in Austin, Texas.

According to the Texas Education Agency, Texas school districts have already spent over $250 million this school year on new instructional materials. If history serves as a guide, many of those products will go unused because they will not live up to the publisher’s claims.

The challenge of finding high quality instructional materials is exacerbated as districts increasingly transition to a blended learning environment with either 1:1 or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives. Now, not only must administrators find instructional materials that meet their students’ academic needs, but the materials must also work with multiple devices, browsers and operating systems. District staff seldom has the time and/or expertise to thoroughly review the academic attributes and technology requirements of instructional materials before the district decides which products to buy.

Learning List’s new Spec Sheets and Explorer tool help districts meet that challenge. The Explorer tool helps educators navigate the vast (and expanding) universe of K-12 instructional materials to find products the meet their academic and technical specifications. The new Spec Sheet, Learning List’s two-page checklist of a product’s key academic attributes and technology requirements, will help curriculum and technology teams quickly narrow the list of available products they need to review themselves.

For each material, the Spec Sheet includes several criteria within each of the following categories:

blog chart

“We have found that reviewing the technology specs of a product is just as critical as reviewing the academic side of materials. If your district’s technology is not compatible with the specs of the product, your teachers won’t be able to use it.  So regardless of how good a product is instructionally, if the square peg doesn’t fit in the round hole then you are just wasting money. Learning List’s new Spec Sheets are going to make shopping for instructional materials much less time consuming and will give districts of all sizes greater confidence in the products they select,” Matt Tyner, Textbook Manager for Dallas ISD and Executive Board Member of the Instructional Materials Coordinators’ Association of Texas (IMCAT).

The Spec Sheets are consistently formatted to make it easy for educators to compare critical product features. These at-a-glance reviews complement Learning List’s more in-depth Alignment Reports and Editorial Reviews. Subscribers now get three independent, professional reviews to help inform their buying decisions.

Learning List is an instructional materials review service for schools and districts. With subscribing districts in five states serving over a million students, Learning List has reviewed more than 1,000 preK-12 products in the four core subjects. Learning List reviews both textbooks and digital instructional materials upon subscribers’ requests.

“Learning List is a service for schools and districts. Our subscribers asked us for help verifying and comparing products’ technology requirements. The Spec Sheet and Explorer tool are our latest response to districts’ need for high-quality, transparent information in the rapidly evolving K-12 instructional materials marketplace,” said Jackie Lain, Learning List’s President.

 

About Learning List –Learning List is the industry-leading instructional materials review service for schools and districts. Like Consumer Reports®, Learning List provides independent reviews of preK-12 instructional materials to help administrators choose and teachers use materials effectively.

For further information about Learning List’s Spec Sheets and/or new Explorer tool, contact Cindy Ryan at Learning List 512-852-2132 or CindyR@LearningList.com.

 

 

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The Thigh Bone’s Connected to the Hip Bone; the Hip Bone’s Connected to the …

It’s axiomatic: students can’t learn what they are not being taught. As the song (above) suggests, if your instructional materials (IMs) are not well aligned to the state’s standards, your students’ test scores will likely reflect it.

Here’s why:

– Studies have shown that teachers rely on their IMs for 80% of their curriculum. They expect that the IMs their district has purchased are aligned to the standards.

– If the IMs are not aligned to 100% of the standards and teachers don’t know where the deficits are, they will not adjust their instruction (with supplemental materials and/or instructional strategies) to make up for the materials’ deficits.

– If students are not taught the knowledge and skills the standards require them to know, they won’t ace the state tests.

– Teachers, campuses and districts are evaluated based on their students’ performance.

Bottom line: If your students have underperformed on a standard or group of standards, the first step to remediating the problem is to examine the alignment of your instructional materials. A simple way to improve your students’ test scores is to go through this analysis:

Step 1: Are the IMs your teachers are using aligned to those standards?

If the IMs are not aligned to those standards, your teachers should either (a) incorporate into their lesson plans supplemental resources that are aligned to that/those standard(s); or (b) adjust their instructional strategies (e.g,, questioning) to make up for the deficit(s) in the material’s coverage of the standards.

Step 2: If the material is aligned to those standards, you must determine whether all of the citations for that/those standard are aligned or whether there are some citations that are not aligned.

Click Image for YouTube Video [Source: Super Simple Songs]

Click Image for YouTube Video [Source: Super Simple Songs]

If some citations are not aligned and your teachers assigned the non-aligned citations, students were not being taught everything those standards require them to know; thus, they did not master the test questions covering those standards.

Bottom line: The degree to which your instructional materials are aligned will likely be reflected in your students’ test results. If your district subscribes to Learning List, our alignment reports make this analysis easy. Under Training Resources, see the step-by-step guidance on “Analyzing your Test Results.”

If you want to set your students (and teachers) up for success, make sure the materials you are using (either individually or in the aggregate) are aligned to each standard. If you use a product series that spans multiple grade levels, you need to review the alignment of the product at each grade level because the alignment may vary greatly from grade level to grade level.

The “hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the ….” Your instructional materials will impact your students’ and teachers’ success.

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Complying with the 100% Rule

100 percentOn March 24, Superintendents received TEA’s “To the Administrator Addressed” letter regarding ordering instructional materials and certifying their district’s compliance with the 100% Rule. The commissioner of education may require districts to submit supporting documentation about the instructional materials on which the certification is based.

State-adopted, non-adopted, comprehensive and supplemental materials may be considered when certifying that the district’s materials align to 100% of the TEKS for each grade/subject.  Can you prove that your district’s instructional materials, individually or in the aggregate, are aligned to 100% of the TEKS for each grade/subject?

Learning List has reviewed over 800 comprehensive and supplemental materials in all four core subjects. For each state-adopted and non-adopted material, Learning List provides an independent alignment report showing to which standards the material is aligned and the alignment percentage.

Subscribing districts can access all completed reviews and can also request reviews of additional materials, including materials the district is using, at no additional cost.

Please contact us for more information about how our service can provide confidence that your district is in compliance with the 100% Rule.

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Buyer Beware (Part 3): Believing that the Alignment Percentage Is Consistent Across All Grade Levels

[Source: Griffith Elementary School, Phoenix, AZ]

[Source: Griffith Elementary School, Phoenix, AZ]

According to a recent article published on PBS Newshour, 90 percent of districts in Common Core states said that developing or identifying Common Core curricular materials has posed a challenge. Yet even when instructional materials can be identified, how do districts know what the alignment percentages may be across grade levels?

Alignment percentages can vary greatly from grade level to grade level – independent of the standard  [CCSS (Common Core State Standards), TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills),  etc.] and instructional materials subjects being reviewed [Math, ELA/R, etc.].

Here are a few examples:

Slide1

Slide2

Bottom line: Do not assume that the alignment percentage at one grade level is representative of the product’s alignment at all grade levels, or even at all grade levels within a single grade span. Learning List helps identify alignment percentage differences across grade levels and can assist you in selecting supplemental materials that can Fill-in-the-Gap™.

Solution: If your district is going to purchase multi-grade level material, look at the alignment of the material at each grade level. If the material is not consistently aligned, check why. Does the product not attempt to align to a particular domain/strand (i.e., it only addresses information text)? Did the product not align well to a particular domain/strand? If the answer is “yes” to either of these questions, it will be easy to supplement with another material that specializes in the non-aligned domain/strand. However, there simply may not be a logical pattern of non-alignment from grade-level to grade-level. To effectively prepare your students to master the standards, your teachers must know which standards the material is or is not aligned to in each grade level so that they can adjust their instructional strategies accordingly.

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