Posts Tagged "alignment"

What Learning List’s Reviews Tell Educators

Learning List’s three professional reviews provide a multi-faceted perspective of each material:

Three Reviews
  • Spec Sheet – provides an overview of the material’s key instructional features and technology compatibility.  We test the key instructional components of each material to identify which devices and operating systems the material works on, as well as other interoperability information. This review helps educators eliminate from consideration products that clearly will not meet their students’ instructional needs or work with the district’s technology infrastructure and hardware.
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What Alignment Means

During our many conversations with publishers regarding instructional materials we have found that the statement “aligned to standards” means different things to different people. For example, the marketing director of a publishing company recently told us that “aligned to standards” in their marketing material means that their material generally addresses the concepts contained in the standards. In contrast, when we ask educators what they understand when they read that a material is “aligned to standards,” they repeatedly tell us they expect the material to address the content knowledge and skills the standards require students to learn.


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Teacher Shortages

With school starting, districts across the country are scrambling to find teachers for their classrooms.  Yesterday, educators and policymakers gathered in Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend the Oklahoma Teacher Pipeline Summit to discuss long-term solutions to the teacher shortage.  Some of the policy-based solutions that were discussed include:

  • State-funded loan forgiveness, scholarships or signing bonuses for university-prepared teachers who commit to working in a public school;
  • State funded paid student teacher internships;
  • University-created courses to prepare future educators for subject specific knowledge (e.g., the Tulsa University is creating a STEM minor for future teachers), pedagogical knowledge, and skills educators need to support today’s students, including courses in childhood trauma.

An interim legislative study on policy solutions to address teacher shortages is anticipated.

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How Learning List Helps Districts Comply with ESSA’s “Evidence Based” Requirement

A recent report from Curriculum Associates discusses the Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) requirement that federal education funds be used for evidence-based programs, interventions, and products. “ESSA and Evidence Claims: A Practical Guide to Understanding What ‘Evidence-Based’ Really Means” provides a primer for educators in understanding the four levels of evidence recognized by ESSA (e.g., moderate evidence), the type of study that exemplifies each level (e.g., quasi-experimental), and the five questions educators should ask when evaluating research-based evidence (e.g., “When was the study conducted?”).

One of five questions for evaluating evidence, in particular, caught Learning List’s attention: “Was the study based on current content and standards?”

ESSA assumes that the evidence base for a product, program, or service is based on the state’s current standards, but it is possible that the research is grounded in prior state standards or another state’s standards, altogether. It is the district’s responsibility to vet information to ensure products purchased with federal funds and the evidence supporting the products’ effectiveness are based on the appropriate standards.

A tall order but Learning List can help.

Learning List’s alignment reports clarify which set of standards a product addresses, such as the Common Core State Standards or the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Our alignment reports evaluate the product’s alignment, determining whether the material fully addresses the content, context, and cognitive demand of each of the relevant standards. Thus, Learning List’s alignment reports provide strong evidence about whether a product is grounded in the relevant standards. [Read more…]

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The Role of Instructional Materials in Shaping Teacher Practice

In a recent op-ed appearing in The Hill, ThinkCerca’s founder and CEO, Eileen Murphy Buckley, describes the challenges she faced as a novice English teacher working at  Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, one of Illinois’ best high schools and Michelle Obama’s alma mater. Like many first-year teachers, she struggled with classroom management, planning relevant and engaging instruction, and mastery of her content area. She received sage advice from veteran colleagues, but she “confesses” that her strongest supports as an inexperienced teacher were the instructional materials she used in the classroom.

She writes:

So, there is my confession after all these years, but I make it to say that the products we use in schools matter. The quality of those resources matter so very much because they are what empower students, regardless of which teacher they end up with. The materials shape teachers and teacher practice, and they shape the teachers they raise through years of side by side work.

These products must answer to students and teachers as well as buyers — the admins and school boards who are the stewards of our future, our culture, our democracy. Products have material impact on the lives of our children and grandchildren — who will be caring for us and our country in the very near future.

Simply put, reading materials impact the quality of teaching in much more significant ways than you might know.

At Learning List, we understand the importance of high quality materials. We recognize that instructional materials influence how teachers teach as well as how and what students learn. And this understanding shapes how we review products.

Our editorial reviews examine the supports each material does or does not provide for teachers. Our reviewers explain whether teacher resources include background in content and pedagogy; provide pacing information, lesson plans, and guidance in differentiating instruction; and offer professional development opportunities and professional communities that facilitate collaboration and sharing with other teachers who use the same product. Our reviewers note when they feel a product is particularly appropriate for novice teachers. Such products include comprehensive discussions of the required content knowledge and pedagogy, and offer detailed, often scripted, lesson plans to support instruction. [Read more…]

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