Education News

Adoption of Materials for CTE Courses

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:

  1. the courses within each strand that have the largest statewide enrollment;
  2. the courses for which publishers have submitted the highest number of products for state adoption; and
  3. 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:weld-67640_640

  • 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 Calculatorthe 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.Microscope
  • 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.

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Learning List and EdReports: Differing Reviews of CCSS-Aligned Mathematics Materials

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.

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Your Pi Day Joke Du Jour

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.

 

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Cost vs. Effectiveness

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.

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Happy Birthday, John Dewey (1859-1952)

dewey

[Image Source: Biography.com]

Today, Learning List celebrates the life of John Dewey, the American philosopher, social reformer, and educator, who was born in Vermont on October 20, 1859.  Dewey was a leader of the Progressive Movement in American education, which emphasized active learning and democratic classroom practices as a means to transmit the core social and moral values (e.g., tolerance) needed to ensure the social continuity of America’s democracy.

In contrast to previous, more authoritarian instructional models that focused on rote learning, Dewey held that students must be actively engaged with and invested in what they are learning and that curriculum must be connected to students’ lives. Dewey’s approach recognized the role of students’ personal experiences in shaping their learning and that students learn best when they are ready for new content.  This idea was expressed again in 1966 with Jerome Bruner’s concept of the spiral curriculum where concepts are revisited across the elementary and middle grades in order to address differences in students’ readiness to learn.

Dewey believed that teachers should not act as instructional authorities.  Instead, they should serve as facilitators of student learning, observing, supporting, and attending to individual learning needs. Dewey also asserted that the curriculum should be relevant to students and their lives.  For example, in a 1916 argument in support of vocational education, Dewey wrote:

The problem is not that of making the schools an adjunct to manufacture and commerce, but of utilizing the factors of industry to make school life more active, more full of immediate meaning, more connected with out-of-school experience (from Democracy in Education).

This approach to curriculum and instruction continues to resonate in American education. Dewey’s work, along with that of Jean Piaget, is fundamental to the contemporary Constructivist movement. Beyond Constructivism, most contemporary American educators understand the importance of a relevant curriculum and student-centered instruction in engaging students with content and meeting diverse student learning needs.

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Are Digital Resources or Textbooks More Effective? OECD Weighs In

oecd logo 2

Source: OECD

Are digital resources more effective than textbooks? They are certainly more trendy these days. Although Learning List has reviewed hundreds of instructional materials in both formats, it’s difficult for us to say that one format is better than another. Online adaptive products that individualize learning for each student have the potential to differentiate instruction and keep all students challenged, while textbooks are easier to use, particularly for students without Internet access at home. As more digital content providers are entering the K-12 marketplace, we are paying close attention to research and policy discussions about the effectiveness of online products. We thought our readers might be interested in a recent Bloomberg View that summarizes findings from a 2015 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report.

standardized_testThe report’s key finding is that “increased computer use in classrooms leads to lower test scores.”  The OECD compared test results from the 2009 and 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) for groups of students who did and did not use digital resources for instruction. Results indicated that “the use of computers was negatively correlated with improvements in student performance” in both math and reading. That is, students who did not use digital resources performed better on the PISA tests, though there were some anomalies.

In addition, students in Japan, China, South Korea and other Asian economies where fewer students use computers, also did better on computer-based assignments. These students were no less comfortable using technology than students in Australia and Northern Europe where computers are more prevalent in instruction.

The reason? The report concludes:

Gaps in the digital skills of both teachers and students, difficulties in locating high-quality digital learning resources from among a plethora of poor-quality ones, a lack of clarity on the learning goals and insufficient pedagogical preparation for blending technology meaningfully into lessons and curricula create a wedge between expectations and reality. If these challenges are not addressed as part of the technology plans of schools and education ministries, technology may do more harm than good to the teacher-student interactions that underpin deep conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking.

Learning List’s Alignment Reports, Editorial Reviews and new Spec Sheets help educators overcome two of the challenges identified in the OECD report: finding high quality digital resources and blending digital resources into lessons and curricula effectively.

multitasking-mobile-devices-557x362The new Spec Sheets are Learning List’s two-page checklist of each product’s key academic and technology attributes. The Spec Sheets complement our more comprehensive Alignment Reports and Editorial Reviews to help educators quickly identify high-quality digital products that meet their students’ needs and can be implemented successfully using the district’s current technology. We hope that this at-a-glance review will help districts’ curriculum and technology teams quickly narrow the list of products to review themselves.

Learning List’s Alignment Reports also help educators integrate digital instructional materials into their lesson plans/curricula for more effective instruction. These detailed reports identify multiple citations (i.e. page numbers, lesson names) that Learning List’s subject matter experts determined to be aligned to the content, context and cognitive demand of each standard. Only by assigning the parts of the material that are aligned to each standard can teachers have confidence that their students are learning the knowledge and skills the standards require.

Stop by our booth (#1817) at the TASA/TASB Convention this weekend, and let us show you how our service and our new Spec Sheets can help your district choose and use instructional materials more effectively. If you won’t be at the conference, request a webinar at your convenience, and we’ll be glad to introduce you to our service.

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