This weekend, while I was walking with a teacher friend (keeping an appropriate social distance and wearing our masks), I asked how she is managing teaching her second grade class. She said she misses seeing her students every day, and lamented that she has had to rely on district-provided online materials a lot more than she ever did in the past. I asked her how well she liked using the online materials. The materials, she explained, use games to teach, and while her students found them engaging, she feared that the materials are not well aligned to the standards. I asked whether her district had reviewed the materials before she used them. She responded, “I doubt they had the time.”
The reading wars continue. If your teachers are debating the best way to approach reading instruction, we offer the articles below to inform the discussions in your district.
The Hechinger Institute’s article “Four Things You Need to Know About the New Reading Wars,” discusses phonics instruction, balanced literacy, and reading comprehension, referencing additional articles including some of those listed below.
The Center for the Collaborative Classroom recently interviewed Dr. Louisa Moats, who shares her thoughts on the Common Core State Standards, the need for explicit instruction in foundational skills, and her understanding and background on the science of reading.
Today, the Texas State Board of Education adopted materials for CTE Courses. Other than the materials submitted by Red & Black, the materials on this list were adopted.
Learning List has reviewed materials for 80 CTE courses including:
- the courses within each strand that have the largest statewide enrollment;
- the courses for which publishers have submitted the highest number of products for state adoption; and
- the 17 CTE courses which are eligible for math or science credit.
Having reviewed many CTE materials, we provide these observations which we hope will be useful during your local selection process:
- Very few products we reviewed are specific to Texas or include direct references to the TEKS in teacher and/or student materials. Even some products that include Texas in their titles (e.g., Pearson’s “Texas Manufacturing Welding”) do not include references to the TEKS. This is likely due to the fact that many CTE products, while suitable for high school instruction, are designed to meet the needs of community college students and students in career and technical schools. However, some products contain supplemental resources, such as lesson plans and correlation documents, to help Texas teachers plan TEKS-aligned instruction.
- Similarly, CTE products designed for post-secondary learning environments tend to have fewer supports for struggling readers, such as active reading strategies, checks for understanding, and margin notes with study tips and learning strategies, which may create challenges for their use in high school classrooms.
- Nearly all of the products we reviewed addressed employment skills to some degree. Products include profiles of careers related to content, portfolio building activities, and lessons addressing job searches and skills for success in the workplace (e.g., collaboration, communication).
- Some products are state-adopted for multiple For example, Cengage Learning’s “Personal Financial Literacy” and Goodheart-Willcox’s “Foundations of Financial Literacy” are state-adopted for both Money Matters (Subchapter F: Finance) and Dollars and Sense (Subchapter J: Human Services).
- There is considerable overlap in content for some publishers’ submissions. For example, CEV Multimedia’s products are state-adopted for a wide range of CTE courses. CEV provides module-based online instruction, and in many cases, the same modules appear in multiple courses. For example, each of the modules that make up CEV’s “Medical Terminology” also appear in CEV’s “Principles of Health Science” (Subchapter H: Health Science). In such cases, districts will want to be careful not to pay twice for the very same content.
- Generally speaking, we saw few supports for English language learners across CTE products. And, when we did see supports, they were minimal such as a Spanish language glossary.
For each state-adopted material in the courses listed above, Learning List has developed a Spec Sheet and Editorial Review to accompany the state’s alignment report. Here is a comparative summary of our reviews of the Money Matters and Anatomy and Physiology materials. Subscribers may also request reviews of off-list materials for those courses.
Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material, and thousands of other widely used Pk-12 resources.
EdReports recently released their reviews of four publishers’ instructional materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics: Math Learning Center’s Bridges in Mathematics (K-5), McGraw Hill’s Everyday Math (K-6), Kendall Hunt’s Math Innovations (6-8), and Origo’s Stepping Stones (K-5). Reviewing the materials for alignment to the instructional shifts of the CCSS, EdReports found only one material, Bridges in Mathematics, to be fully aligned and sufficiently easy to use.
At Learning List, we were surprised by these findings. In contrast to EdReports, we found Bridges in Mathematics, Everyday Math, and Stepping Stones to be aligned to 100 percent of the CCSS at each grade level the material addressed.
For each material, we provide three distinct reviews, including: (1) an overview of the material’s key academic attributes and technology requirements; (2) a detailed verification of the material’s alignment to each CCSS; and (3) an in-depth review of the material’s instructional content and design.
For the alignment review, multiple experienced and certified teachers review the citations (i.e., pages, video, lessons) listed in publisher’s correlation to verify that they address the content, context, and cognitive demand of each standard. For CCSS math products, we also review the material’s alignment to each of the eight Mathematical Practice Standards (MPS), the CCSS-identified habits of mind that students should develop as a result of mathematics instruction (e.g., reason quantitatively).
Our reviewers found that Bridges in Mathematics, Everyday Math, and Stepping Stones address 100% of the CCSS at each grade level. This does not mean that every citation we reviewed was aligned to the relevant standard; rather, it means that our reviewers found that every standard was fully addressed in at least one location in the text. We also found that the MPS are fully integrated in Bridges in Mathematics and Everyday Math. Origo did not submit an MPS correlation for Learning List to verify.
Beyond alignment, our editorial reviews provide an in-depth analysis of each material’s instructional content and design, including multiple indicators of rigor, focus, coherence and ease of use. For example, our editorial reviews for each of these three materials found that: distracting or extraneous content is limited, instruction is grade appropriate and the material develops critical or higher order thinking skills. While Bridges for Mathematics and Stepping Stones contain inquiry-based activities; Everyday Math did not. All three materials provide assessments at appropriate instructional points but contain different types of navigation tools and different instructional resources for teachers and students, as elaborated upon in each review.
Reviewing materials is an inherently subjective analysis. Both EdReports and Learning List provide rigorous reviews of each material for educators to use as a baseline for their internal review and selection process. In contrast to EdReports, we found that Bridges, Everyday Math, and Stepping Stones deeply addresses the CCSS. Our editorial reviews further highlight each material’s attributes of rigor, coherence, focus and ease. Whether each of the materials is rigorous, focused or coherent enough for their students is a decision we leave for schools and districts to make for themselves.
Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for these materials.
When I was in middle school, my uncle asked my what I’d learned that day. I answered, “Pi R square.” My uncle, who was a bit unsophisticated answered, “Honey, they are teaching you wrong. Everyone knows pies are round. Corn bread are square.”
Okay. It’s an old joke. But poor math skills are no joking matter—particularly here in the USA. As a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey found, U.S. adults scored at the bottom of the 24 participating countries, outranking only Italy and Spain, in their ability to solve everyday problems, such as calculating the total price for items in a buy one, get the second at 50% off sale.
So, on this day, as we celebrate Pi, our favorite irrational number, Learning List would like to give a shout out and a high five to math educators who strive to develop the habits of mind and quantitative reasoning skills that are so critical to our students’ (and adults’) success.
Learning List has reviewed hundreds of the most popular math materials aligned to the TX, CCSS, CA CCSS, MAFS (Florida) and revised AP Calculus course framework. We hope our spec sheets, alignment reports and editorial reviews make your job a bit easier.
Go math! Go math teachers!
Subscribe to Learning List for access to full editorial reviews, alignment reports and spec sheets.
A recent article in U.S. News and World Report discusses a report from the Center for American Progress. Analyzing state-adopted materials from 19 states, the authors found little relationship between the cost and quality of curriculum materials.
Though the study looked only at print materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards, Learning List data for print and online products reveal the same about Texas materials. The table below shows the price of three state-adopted, 100% aligned Economics materials that vary in price by up to $81/student over an 8 year subscription:
This table of 100% aligned, state-adopted and non-state-adopted Algebra I products also shows significant price variance:
The article further states, “schools often used misaligned textbooks, and studies have shown that there is a clear gap between what publishers say is aligned to state standards or effective and what truly fits those criteria.”
This begs the question: how does one judge the “effectiveness” of a material prospectively? With so many intervening variables (e.g., the teacher’s skill, the teacher’s use of the material, the students’ abilities and learning styles, and, for online materials, the district’s infrastructure), it is difficult to predict with certainty whether a material is/will be effective.
Alignment to state standards is one predictive measure of a product’s effectiveness. Another is other educators’ experiences with the product. For that reason, Learning List’s editorial reviews incorporate feedback from multiple educators who personally have used the products with students. The reviews also include a list of reference districts for subscribers to contact before purchasing a product. Finally, educators can share their experience by rating and reviewing the products featured on LearningList.com.
Learning List’s alignment reports, editorial reviews and new spec sheets provide multi-faceted feedback to inform educators’ selection of products and help them use their products most effectively.