Study Shows 3 High-Impact Strategies for States
Aligning Classroom Materials to State Readiness Standards
How have schools managed the massive shift of aligning classroom teaching materials to their states’ college- and career-readiness standards?
New reports from the Southern Regional Education Board detail how states approached the challenge and recommend strategies to focus on as the work continues.
After states adopted higher standards for what students should learn, educators needed new textbooks, teaching strategies and tests to help their students reach the new standards. How would they know when materials were actually aligned to the standards? And how could state departments of education help with the massive shift ahead?
“In states, districts and classrooms, this is the long-term, detailed implementation that will determine whether the standards make a difference for students,” said Kim Anderson, director of the SREB project. “Our aim in highlighting bright spots to learn from is to inspire states to build on their work.”
The SREB study, Alignment of Instructional Materials: Trends in State Efforts, analyzed the efforts of 15 states, during 2014-15 and 2015-16, to help schools choose high-quality materials that align to their English language arts and math standards. The reports point to three high-impact ways states can help educators use quality classroom materials aligned to state standards:
1. Establish clear criteria for quality materials — and clear processes for educators to design and review them.
Louisiana, for example, developed rubrics for schools to use as they chose textbooks and benchmark assessments. In North Carolina, the Department of Public Instruction and North Carolina State University reviewed online teaching materials, and new ones are evaluated at least twice a year.
2. Provide guidance, training and materials to schools as they select and create teaching resources.
Alabama’s State Department of Education, for example, developed extensive online guides to help educators understand the standards. Alabama’s online platform included extensive model lessons and unit plans, plus a tool to help teachers map a full year of instruction and assessment. Louisiana offered professional learning and technical assistance to all schools in the state and built networks of districts and principals so they could support one another.
3. Use data, research and evaluation to drive decision-making for continuous improvement.
The Delaware Department of Education surveyed educators about their quality of state resources and visited schools to learn how teachers used them. The department also measured the impact of large initiatives on student scores. To gauge the effectiveness of its offerings, Arkansas assessed the knowledge of educators before and after they used the state’s online courses or training.
“Using data is the most critical area for improvement,” Anderson said. “We need to collect the right types of information and be sure we’re learning from it to improve what we do next.”
Detailed analysis of each state’s efforts, success and status, plus state-specific recommendations
Full report for all states. And a rubric that shows what comprehensive support could look like.