Over the last year, many of our subscribing districts requested reviews of adaptive materials. The concept behind adaptive materials is admirable: different content is presented to each student based upon the student’s performance on each task or assessment. In essence, these products offer the promise of an individualized instruction for each student.

However, districts should not assume that “adaptive” means “aligned to standards.” Many adaptive materials assign content based on skill mastery rather than mastery of the standards. Based on our experience, districts would be advised to carefully review the alignment of adaptive materials to the standards they are needed to support before using them.

That said, reviewing the alignment of adaptive materials is challenging because the product presents different content to each user. We offer the following strategies to enable multiple educators to access and review the same content in an adaptive product:

  • If the product allows teachers to assign specific content to students, the same feature should allow multiple reviewers to access the same content.
  • The publisher may be able to provide unique content identifiers that, when entered into the product’s search feature, produce the same content for any reviewer to review.
  • If neither of these options exists, ask the publisher for sample lessons/questions that they believe are aligned to each standard.

Reviewing adaptive materials typically takes longer than reviewing materials without adaptive features. However, as teachers juggle the demands of in-person and remote instruction, as well as differentiation, they may rely on adaptive materials for instruction. Therefore, investing the time necessary to thoroughly review an adaptive material’s alignment before selecting or using it is certainly advisable and could be critical to students’ success.