Posts Tagged "Education Week"

Which Products Are Least Aligned to CCSS Mathematics Standards?

[Source: Education Week]

[Source: Education Week]

Last week, Education Week hosted a webinar addressing the mathematics standards that were most challenging for students to master. The webinar identified broad groups of standards in measurement, modeling with mathematics, fractions, and statistics and explained how these concepts build on one another. The presentation illustrated a trajectory in which elementary students who did not master early concepts continued to struggle with more advanced concepts in later grades. For example, students who did not master concepts such as length in elementary school also struggled with line graphs and coordinate grids in middle school.

[Video courtesy of]

[Video courtesy of]

This analysis prompted Learning List to think about the Common Core mathematics products we’ve reviewed. In particular, we wondered which mathematics standards were least aligned in the products we’ve reviewed. We analyzed our data to identify the CCSSM standards that were not addressed in at least half (50%) of the products for which we’ve verified CCSS alignment.

Our analysis did not identify any standards at grades K-5 for which 50% or more of products were not aligned. Individual products were not aligned to some standards, but no one standard in any grade level was consistently not aligned in 50% or more of the products.

At the middle school level, our analysis identified two standards that 50% or more of products did not address:

  • At grade 6, we have reviewed 12 products; 58.3% of these products did not address CSCCM 6.SP.5: Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.
  • At grade 8, we have reviewed 12 products ; 50% of these products did not address CCSSM 8.G.5: Use formal arguments to establish facts about the angle sum and exterior angle of triangles, about the angles created when parallel lines are cut by a transversal, and the angle-angle criterion for similarity of triangles.

At the high school level, we identified four standards for Algebra I and three standards for Algebra II that were not addressed by 50% of products:

  • For Algebra I, of the eight products we have reviewed:
    • 50% did not address CCSSM A-REI.4: Solve quadratic equations in one variable.
    • 50% did not address CCSSM F-IF.7: Graph functions expressed symbolically and show key features of the graph, by hand in simple cases and using technology for more complicated cases.
    • 50% did not address CCSSM F-IF.8: Write a function defined by an expression in different but equivalent forms to reveal and explain different properties of the function.
    • 50% did not address CCSSM F-LE.1: Distinguish between functions that can be modeled with linear functions and with exponential functions.
  • For Algebra II, of the four products we have reviewed:
    • 50% were not aligned to CCSSM A-SSE.1: Interpret expressions that represent quantity in terms of its context.
    • 50% were not aligned to CCSSM A-REI.11: Explain why the x-coordinates of the points where the graphs of y=f(x) and y=g(x) intersect are the solutions of the equation f(x)=g(x); find the solutions approximately, e.g., using technology to graph the functions, make tables of values, or find successive approximations. Include cases where f(x) and/ or g(x) are linear, polynomial, rational, absolute value, exponential, and logarithmic functions.
    • 50% were not aligned to CCSSM F-IF.7: Graph functions expressed symbolically and show key features of the graph, by hand in simple cases and using technology for more complicated cases.

The results of our analysis indicate that publishers have greater difficulty meeting the CCSSM in high school algebra courses.  If a specific instructional material does not align to 100% of the CCSM standards, Learning List has a key feature, Fill-in-the Gap™,  that identifies other products that align to the remaining standards. If needed, this enables educators to use at least two instructional materials that, in the aggregate, would align to 100% of the CCSM standards.

In a subsequent post, we will examine our TEKS data to identify the least aligned mathematics standards in the products we’ve reviewed. We welcome your comments or questions about this topic; please send comment/question to

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Reason to Celebrate: Districts Gain More Freedom in the Instructional Materials Selection Process

20150218 edweek

[Source: Education Week]

[Source: Education Week]

In today’s EdWeek, Catherine Gewertz discusses how some states have relaxed their control over instructional materials and are providing districts with more freedom in choosing their classroom resources. Increasingly, states are stepping away from textbook adoption processes in which state-appointed panels review instructional materials and provide lists of state “approved” resources from which districts were required to purchase.

The increased freedom in selecting instructional materials has been a reason to celebrate in many districts. But administrators are quick to acknowledge that the new freedom comes with some challenges, particularly as so many new instructional materials designed to address the Common Core State Standards flood the market. With less state guidance on what to choose and more instructional materials to choose from, districts bear a greater burden to ensure the materials they select are aligned to standards and appropriate for students. This is a time-consuming task and requires resources that many districts do not have.

Learning List’s mission is to help districts choose and then use high-quality, standards-aligned materials. For each product, Learning List features three types of independent reviews:

(1) Learning List’s alignment reports verify the citations listed in the publisher’s correlation from the educator’s perspective. The reports show whether and where the material addresses the content, context, and cognitive demand of each standard;

(2) Our research-based editorial reviews assess the material’s instructional content and design to help educators understand whether the product will meet their students and teachers’ needs; and,

(3) Educators can rate and review the products to explain how the materials affected teaching and learning in their classrooms.

In the aggregate, Learning List’s reviews provide districts with the information they need to ensure that a product is aligned to standards and contains the features and functionality that their students’ need. The detailed alignment reports also help educators integrate the instructional materials into their curriculum more effectively.  Our service saves districts time and money and provides the documentation required to certify that instructional materials meet state standards.

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Gallup Poll: Budget Cuts – And How to Do More with Less

Source: Education Week-Gallup Report (July 2014)

Source: Education Week-Gallup Report (July 2014)

A recent Gallup poll of superintendents reported that 45 percent of respondents intended to make budget cuts during the upcoming school year.  The respondents commented that they intended to make cuts in the areas of operations and maintenance, instruction, salary and wages, and administration. Note: A full copy of the survey results is available here.

Given the deep cuts districts were forced to make in 2011, it’s shocking that so many are again having to cut budgets. The burden of budget cuts is born not only by the employees who are released, but also by the remaining employees who have to assume the additional responsibilities of their departed colleagues. I often hear district leaders lamenting the fact that they keep having to ask their staff to do more … and more … and more.

Learning List can help. Learning List helps relieves educators of the stress and burden of determining whether instructional materials are aligned to the standards and would address their students’ learning needs. Functioning like a virtual curriculum department, Learning List develops detailed alignment reports and professional reviews to assist district staff and local selection committees narrow the number of materials they need to review themselves. As a result, they spend less time reviewing instructional materials, review the materials they are most interested in more deeply and ultimately make better informed selection decisions.

As a curriculum director of a large suburban district recently commented, “The question is not so much how can we afford to subscribe to your service; but rather, how can we afford not to.”



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The Top 5 Things Many Content Developers Are Getting Wrong*

Common-Core-Middle-School-Word-Cloud (1)A recent Education Week blog post reported on the annual Education Writers Association conference in Nashville this week. The Common Core standards took center stage, as the writer explained: “A marathon four-hour session on the common core offered reporters the chance to hear from a range of policy experts,” though “no strident critics of the standards appeared.” Interestingly, the session didn’t delve into how educators are covering the Standards.

Most interesting to me was a comment by Amber Northern, the vice president for research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, who said, “I’d love to see an article on the top five things curriculum developers are getting wrong.”

Over the past 15 months, Learning List has reviewed hundreds of instructional materials aligned to both the Texas and Common Core state standards. Ms. Northern, here are five observations based on our experience:

(1)   Some publishers seem to believe that as long as their content mentions part of a standard (i.e., the content or “noun” of the standard) the content is “aligned to” the standard.

Educators will tell you that in order to prepare students to master the standards, instructional materials must align to the content, context and cognitive demand or performance expectation of each standard.

Publishers be aware: Educators don’t give partial credit for alignment.

(2)   Some publishers seem to believe that “rigorous” means “harder”.  Research suggests that rigorous instructional materials:

a)       Engage students with complex but grade-appropriate, complex content,

b)       Require students to think critically about what they learn, and

c)        Ask students to solve problems linked to the real world and their own lives.

Publishers be aware: Giving students material that is developmentally appropriate for a higher grade may be “harder,” but is not more rigorous.

(3)   Some publishers comment, “Our product addresses that standard in the prior grade level.”

The instructional material for a given grade level should align to the standards for that grade level.

Publishers be aware: The alignment of the material at each grade level is judged separately.  Students can’t rely solely on content they produced in a previous grade to meet an expectation in a later grade and neither should instructional materials.

(4)   Some publishers seem to believe that if they “bundle” several citations (e.g., lessons, pages of text, videos) each of which partially aligns to the standard, the material is aligned to the standard.

However, the correlations don’t indicate which citations should be “bundled” to align to the standard.

Publishers be aware: Teachers expect that each citation listed in the publisher’s correlation for a standard aligns to and will help their students master the standard. For that reason, Learning List assesses citations individually for alignment to the relevant standard.

(5)   Some publishers seem to believe that saying material is aligned to the standards makes it so.

Educators know when a material is and when it is not aligned to the standards.

Publishers be aware: The availability of many product options, high stakes accountability systems and tight budgets have forced educators to become increasingly critical consumers of instructional materials.

These are some of the common mistakes we’ve observed as we’ve reviewed a diverse range of instructional materials over the last year-and-a-half. But, we’ve identified positive trends* among content developers, too, as well as trends in districts’ selection practices and decisions. We’ll share those observations in future posts. Stay tuned…

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October 2021