Posts Tagged "standards"

EdNext Poll on Testing

ednext_XVI_1_poll_fig01-small

[Source: The 2015 EdNext Poll on School Reform
WINTER 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 1]

Over the last few months, the national conversation about public education seems to have shifted from a debate over the Common Core State Standards to a debate over state testing.  Daily, newspapers feature stories about states dropping out of the Common Core testing consortia, PARCC or Smarter Balanced; states abandoning long-standing state testing contracts; and parents opting [their children] out of taking state tests.  Increasingly, state legislatures are examining ways to reduce the number of tests students have to take.

A new poll by Education Next suggests that there may be less hostility towards testing than the media would have us believe.  The nationally representative survey solicited responses from approximately 4,000 members of the general public, parents and teachers.

When asked:  “Do you support or oppose the federal government continuing to require that all students be tested in math and reading each year in grades 3-8 and once in high school?” respondents answered as follows:

Members of the public:  67% supported vs. 21% opposed continuing the federal requirements for annual testing (contained in the federal  No Child Left Behind Act)
Parents:  66% supported vs. 23% opposed continuing the federally-mandated testing;
Teachers:  47% supporting vs. 46% opposed continuing the federally mandated testing.

In answer to the question, “Do you support or oppose letting parents decide whether to have their children take state math and reading tests?” The responses were as follows:

Members of the public:  25% supported vs. 59% opposed giving parents the right to “opt-out” of state tests;
Parents:  32% supported vs. 52% opposed giving parents the right to “opt-out” of state testing;
Teachers:  32% supported vs. 57% opposed giving parents the right to “opt-out” of state testing.

While federal and state policymakers may change the type, number and timing of tests students have to take, testing will remain an indispensable part of our education system.  Learning List’s independent alignment reports help educators understand how the instructional materials they use may be affecting their students’ test results.  If students repeatedly missed test questions associated with a particular standard or group of standards, teachers can refer to Learning List’s alignment report(s) to determine (1) whether the district’s instructional material(s) is/are aligned to those standards, and (2) more specifically, whether the specific citations (e.g., page numbers, lessons) they assigned are aligned to those standards.  If either the material or the citations were not aligned to those standards, students likely did not learn what those standards required them to know.  Either situation is easily fixed by providing supplemental materials aligned to those standards or by assigning other citations listed in the publisher’s correlation that have been verified to be aligned to those standards.

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What’s the Difference? Comprehensive vs. Supplemental Materials

20150327 21st wordleRecently, Learning List’s reviewers were confronted with an interesting question: How do we characterize materials as comprehensive or supplemental? Generally speaking, we understood that a comprehensive product would address all, or nearly all, of the standards for a particular grade and subject area, and a supplemental product would focus on a particular set of standards. However, our reviewers found that some materials that were designed to for supplemental instruction (e.g., test preparation resources) addressed nearly all of the standards for a given course. This prompted us to examine our thinking about what the labels “comprehensive” and “supplemental” mean in terms of instructional materials.

To clarify our understanding, we looked to how some states and districts define these terms. For example, California defines comprehensive, or “basic”, instructional materials to be “instructional materials that are designed for use by pupils as a principal learning resource and that meet in organization and content the basic requirements of the intended course (Educ. Code § 60010.a). In California, supplementary materials are materials that provide more complete coverage of a subject in a course, address diverse learning needs, and support the use of technology in the classroom (Educ. Code § 60010.l). Similarly, Carroll County Public Schools in Maryland defines comprehensive materials as “the primary source of instruction for students in a course” (emphasis in the original) and supplemental materials as “those items used to extend and support instruction and address the needs of all learners.”

Both definitions of comprehensive materials clarify that a comprehensive material is one that supports instruction for a course’s full curriculum and is provided for all students. Such materials would include broad, deep discussions of content; remediation and enrichment activities; formative and summative assessments; as well as teacher resources. Although neither definition specifies that a comprehensive resource must address 100% of the standards for a course, it seems reasonable that a “principal learning resource” or a “primary source of instruction” would need to be highly aligned to standards. Both definitions of supplemental materials indicate that supplemental resources are not designed to be the sole instructional resource for a course. Instead, supplementary materials complement, enrich, or extend the content of comprehensive resources. It seems reasonable that supplemental products will vary in terms of their alignment to standards. Some products may focus on a narrow set of standards, while others, such as test preparation resources, may provide a brief review of all standards.

[Source: Learning List]

[Source: Learning List]

Learning List’s Fill in the Gap™  tool helps educators identify supplemental materials that will extend content and address gaps in comprehensive resources. For each product in Learning List’s database that is not 100% aligned to standards, the Fill in the Gap tool suggests other products that address the missing standards. Suggested products may include both comprehensive and supplemental materials that address the missing standards. This allows educators identify the particular product or combination of products that meets the needs of their students.

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New (Free) Whitepaper: Why Alignment Matters

Why Alignment Matters (whitepaper) © 2014 Learning List

© 2014 Learning List

Has your district ever purchased instructional materials that failed to live up to their claims? If so, you’re not alone. Learning List has reviewed over 500 instructional materials, and only half (54%) of those that claim to be aligned to 100% of the state standards, actually are.  Ever wondered why that happens?

This brief whitepaper, Why Alignment Matters, explains:

  • How Do Educators Define “Alignment”?
  • How do Publishers Define “Alignment”?
  • What Causes the Discrepancy Between Those Definitions?

Alignment Is Critical To Students’ Success.

Before your district starts selecting new materials, download your free copy of Why Alignment Matters.

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Publishers: Meet Learning List (Part 2)

Note: Each Trademark is Property of its Respective Owner

Note: Each Trademark is Property of its Respective Owner

Earlier this week, we began our series on the 15 questions that are most commonly asked of Learning List by those who develop and deliver content. The series began with the answers to five of those questions. In this installment, we’ll address five more.

  1. Why do I need Learning List if my products have already been reviewed by a state agency and by the general public?

Many state agencies only verify alignment to standards, while Learning List adds an editorial review to that. The review describes the product’s features and highlights important qualitative information about the product, as well as educator reviews and ratings. Additionally, we market to the same schools that publishers do – in ways that they might not be able to. We believe that by having products reviewed by Learning List, a publisher can increase its marketing reach to districts and schools across the country. Finally, LearningList.com can generate sales leads. On each review, we place a link to the publisher’s website in order to drive high quality sales leads from subscribers that have already read the reviews. To ensure that the information on Learning List is as robust and informative as possible, we actively invite publisher participation. Participating publishers provide us the correlation to the standards and advise us which customers to interview for the editorial review as well as which reference districts to list. Additionally, publishers can preview the editorial review and alignment report in order to correct any errors before reviews go live on the Learning List service.

  1. If we chose not to submit, why is there a review of one of our products on Learning List.com?

Learning List exists to provide districts with unbiased, independent information about instructional materials to enable them to choose the materials that can best meet students’ needs. When a district requests the review of a specific product, we contact the publisher and invite that publisher to submit the product for review. If the publisher declines to participate in the review, Learning List will attempt to review the product using publicly available information. While Learning List invites and values publisher participation, we are committed to responding to each districts’ needs. The reviews on Learning List clearly indicate if the publisher did not participate. Publishers that do not participate are offered a one-week period to preview the reviews before they are active on Learning List.

  1. Can I withdraw a product if I’m not happy with the results of the review?

No. Because Learning List begins investing its resources in the review as soon as a product is uploaded, a product may not be withdrawn once it is submitted. However, participating publishers do have a lot of input into the reviews. Learning List’s alignment process begins with the publisher’s correlation. Furthermore, the editorial reviews utilize feedback provided by the publisher and the publisher’s customers, as well as from Learning List’s subject-matter-experts. Publishers are able to preview the reviews before they are published, correct errors in the editorial reviews, and submit additional citations for Learning List to review for alignment.

  1. Does Learning List review for coverage of only the TEKS standards?

Currently, Learning List verifies alignment to Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and College Board AP framework.

  1. How long does the entire process take?

Once a product is submitted and Learning List receives all necessary information, the final reviews are published on LearningList.com within about 30 days of receiving the comprehensive materials.

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Aligning to Standards? How to Align to the Verb

 

20140710v2 TriangleLearning List has reviewed hundreds of K-12 instructional materials. Some are textbooks, many are digital materials and some are even DVDs.  What we’ve learned is that no two materials are alike. That makes our job exciting and educators’ jobs even more difficult. In the “old days,” educators just had textbooks to compare. Today, they have to compare online, adaptive products to paper-and-pen materials.

How do you do an apples-to-apples comparison of peaches and pears?

The obvious answer is to use the same criteria to assess all products. But, that’s not as easy at is sounds.

Let’s take, for example, aligning to standards.  Learning List verifies that instructional material is aligned to the content, context and cognitive demand of each standard. One of the most challenging aspects of an alignment analysis is to determine whether the material aligns to the verb of the standard to grade-appropriate level of rigor.

A comprehensive online video-based material could more easily provide simulations and prompts to ensure that students demonstrate their mastery of the content of the standards in in the manner prescribed by the verb(s) in each standard.   In contrast, a print material intended to be a study guide may contain descriptions and examples, but it may not contain simulations, prompts or questions.  Could the examples alone suffice to align the material to the verbs of the standards?

The question we have wrestled with is this:

In order for a material to be aligned to the verb of a standard, does the material have to require students to demonstrate that they can do what the standard expects students to be able to do, or is it sufficient for the material to prepare students to be able to do what the standard expects?  In other words, must instructional materials contain prompts (questions, activities) or would an example depicting what the standards is teaching sufficient?

After much debate, Learning List’s subject matter experts agreed that materials that contain robust examples may align to lower rigor verbs such as “identify,” “compare” or perhaps even “understand,” particularly in the earlier grade levels. But, in order to align to most verbs, materials must contain teacher prompts or questions or activities for students that require students to demonstrate the action (e.g., “ask and answer,” “analyze” or “demonstrate”) required by the verb of the standard.

Do you agree?

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