Delaware – Instructional Materials
In a study of 15 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states, researchers at SREB identified the degree to which the Delaware Department of Education provided leadership and support for the statewide use of high-quality instructional materials that aligned to the state’s K-12 college- and career-readiness standards in English language arts (ELA) and math.
SREB developed a list of actions that demonstrate state leadership and support in each of the three areas listed below. These actions, or “look-fors,” guided data collection and the analysis of state efforts. Read about the look-fors in the full report, located to the right. State efforts in each area fell into one of three levels of implementation: minimal, essential or strong. In some cases, SREB researchers also designated a state action as notable. Below is a detailed description of this state’s efforts.
Table of Contents
|Highlights||Area 1||Area 2||Area 3||Moving Forward|
- Notable support for local efforts to align instructional materials. The Delaware Department of Education, in partnership with external partners including SREB and LearnZillion, provided professional learning and technical assistance to all 19 districts, and to large numbers of schools and educators. These efforts included monthly meetings with multiple specialists in each district, the Common Ground for the Common Core program for school teams, Dream Team teacher training, and Literacy Design Collaborative and Mathematics Design Collaborative training.
- Strong use of data to guide continuous improvement. The department regularly gathered multiple types of data. Data included educators’ emerging needs for resources and support, and trends in their use and perceptions of the quality of the state’s guidance, instructional materials and services. Data also included the impact of educator participation in two state professional learning initiatives on educator and student outcomes, and information on local curriculum alignment practices. The agency gathered these data in multiple ways: annual site visits to one school from every district; surveys of department website users and participants in state professional learning services; the Biennial Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) statewide survey of educators; and annual student assessment results. To use the data to inform state efforts, leaders and staff from across the agency met three times a year, and department staff met monthly with district content specialists from all 19 districts.
Did the department establish clear criteria and a clear process for identifying high-quality instructional materials aligned to the state’s college- and career-readiness standards?
Delaware provided essential leadership and support in this area.
The department used several sets of criteria to assess the quality of instructional materials and their alignment to the state’s college- and career-readiness standards—the Common Core State Standards. The department recommended the use of nationally recognized tools to help districts select textbooks. The department used four sets of criteria, including one developed by Delaware educators, to develop and review the instructional materials the agency offered online. The department established a clear, annual process to collaborate with educators in developing, selecting and reviewing online, on-demand instructional materials.
Table 1: State Criteria and Processes for Reviewing Textbooks and Online, On-Demand Instructional Materials
|State authority and role in developing and selecting instructional materials||Criteria the state used to develop and select materials||Process the state used to develop and select materials|
|In accordance with state law:
The department recommended the local use of the Publishers’ Criteria for the Common Core State Standards, Achieve’s Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) rubrics, and Student Achievement Partners’ Instructional Practice Guide, text complexity tools, Instructional Materials Evaluation Tool (IMET) and Assessment Evaluation Tool (AET). These tools and rubrics (documents that outline expectations, guidelines and procedures) are nationally recognized as clear, detailed and accurate instruments to assess the quality and alignment of textbooks to college- and career-readiness standards.
Delaware did not adopt textbooks at the state level. The department trained districts on how to use the recommended tools for choosing textbooks.
|Online, On-Demand Instructional Materials|
|The department provided repositories of ELA and math model units and lesson plans. It also provided Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) modules. Educators could use these items to inform their planning.||The department used three sets of criteria: Achieve’s EQuIP rubrics for the ELA items; LDC rubrics for the LDC modules; and Delaware teacher-developed criteria for the math items. The EQuIP and LDC rubrics are nationally recognized as clear, detailed and accurate tools to assess the quality and alignment of instructional materials to college- and career-readiness standards.||The department collaborated with educators trained through the district math and literacy cadres and the Dream Team initiative (see “Professional Learning and Technical Assistance” below) to develop, pilot and revise items. Items were most recently updated for math in 2010-11, ELA in 2012-13 and LDC in 2013-14.|
|The department provided LearnZillion’s repository of model units, instructional activities and formative assessments. Educators could use these items to inform their planning.||LearnZillion criteria||Trained Delaware educators collaborated with LearnZillion staff and with Student Achievement Partners consultants to develop and review items in 2014 and 2015 for inclusion on LearnZillion’s website.|
Did the department provide guidance, instructional materials, professional learning and technical assistance to build local knowledge and skills, and support educator use of aligned materials?
Delaware provided essential leadership and support in this area.
The department provided several types of guidance and instructional materials, that educators could access on demand. The department offered notable professional learning and technical assistance, with some services reaching large numbers of districts, schools or educators. Training included how to apply the nationally recognized criteria the department used to develop and review online instructional materials (described above). Examples of the department’s efforts include the following.
Guidance could include information about the standards and aligned teaching strategies, rubrics for gauging alignment of instructional materials, templates for designing aligned instruction, lists of adopted textbooks and online professional learning resources. Delaware provided the following guidance documents.
- Materials from the department’s Common Ground for the Common Core initiative, for assessing curriculum needs, implementing aligned curricula and monitoring curriculum alignment
- Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards: A Suggested Checklist for Curriculum Developers to evaluate and revise curricula and formative assessments
- ELA and math toolkits to help teachers align lesson plans and classroom assessments
- Professional learning modules in ELA and math for individual educators and professional learning communities
- Information to help teachers support English learners in math
- eLearning Delaware online professional learning courses. Over 760 teachers representing all 19 districts accessed the first ELA, literacy and science courses offered in 2015-16.
- Formative assessment items from PerformancePLUS for building classroom- and district-level assessments. PerformancePLUS also enabled educators to analyze and report assessment results.
Instructional materials could include a variety of tools and resources that educators use to plan and deliver instruction, such as model lesson and unit plans, sample formative assessments, textbooks, student workbooks and manipulatives, recommended texts and videos, and multimedia learning tools. Delaware provided the following types of instructional materials.
- ELA and math repositories of model units and lesson plans, LDC modules, and hyperlinks to resources and materials from nationally recognized organizations such as the Teaching Channel
- A LearnZillion repository of model reading units and lessons, sample math instructional activities and Math formative assessment items aligned to the Smarter Balanced annual summative assessment
- Schoology learning management software for sharing curricular resources and videos of classroom instruction
- Smarter Balanced Digital Library of formative assessment items aligned to the annual summative assessment
- A math transition course for high school seniors based on SAT math scores, including instructional resources and materials. In 2014-15 the department collaborated with the state’s higher education institutions to pilot the course at three high schools. Each college committed to waiving placement policies for students passing the course by their 12th-grade year.
- Items for use with students with disabilities incorporating the principles of Universal Design for Learning, and adapted to special formats such as Braille
Professional Learning and Technical Assistance
- Monthly meetings of district content specialists organized into literacy and math cadres, and meetings of directors of instruction and assessment from all 19 districts. During these meetings, attendees participated in professional learning on aligning curriculum, and received assistance on implementing their learning. Cadre members then provided training and support for aligning curriculum in their respective districts. In particular, the literacy cadre worked with teachers to implement LDC tools and practices, and was nationally recognized for the tasks they developed. In 2015-16, districts and charter schools had the opportunity to partner with SREB to further LDC and Mathematics Design Collaborative implementation.
- Common Ground for the Common Core professional learning and technical assistance for school and district leadership teams on aligning instructional materials and formative assessments. In 2014-15, teams from 80 of the state’s 225 schools participated; in 2015-16, teams from 40 schools participated. In 2015-16, teams focused on either closing achievement gaps for students with disabilities and English learners, or deepening literacy practices across the content areas. See SREB’s May 2016 Delaware professional learning profile for a full description of the initiative.
- Delaware Dream Team training and coaching for selected ELA and math teachers on developing aligned instructional materials. Participants developed materials for LearnZillion that educators nationwide could access. Three Dream Team cohorts were trained between 2014 and 2016—74 teachers in 2014 and 2015, and 45 more in 2016. Dream Team teachers also helped the department lead annual TeachFest Academies offered to teachers statewide on aligning instructional materials.
- Training for teachers through the Delaware Reading Project and the Delaware Writing Project, provided through a collaboration between the department, the University of Delaware and districts. Teachers from five schools participated in training throughout the year and developed instructional units, some of which were shared statewide.
- Professional learning to support the integration of literacy into content area instruction:
- In 2016, the department partnered with the Delaware Social Studies Coalition to provide face-to-face training and an online course for teachers on the revised recommended curriculum for social studies. Delaware aligned this curriculum to the Common Core State Standards for literacy in history and social studies.
- Training for art teachers on the intersection of the Common Core State Standards in ELA and the National Core Arts Standards, provided in 2015 in collaboration with national experts
- Professional development and coaching opportunities open to all educators on differentiating instruction for diverse learners. Participation varied by district.
- In 2016, the department reported plans to award Reimagining Professional Learning Grants in 2016-17. Selected schools participate in professional learning and other support services to increase teacher use of aligned instructional materials, enhance the use of equitable practices and improve student learning.
“We are really seeing the work of the Common Ground for the Common Core spread and deepen. When we do school site visits, there is evidence of the principal and guiding team sharing the new learning widely and deeply. More than that, teacher leaders are working with other teachers in their learning community to try out what they’ve learned in their classrooms and they are using this time to share how their new applications are working toward student outcomes. We have also seen greater collaborative practices such as peer observations and coaching each other—the role of the teacher-leader is evolving in the right direction.”—Staff member, Delaware Department of Education
Did the department regularly gather and use multiple types of data in order to continuously improve its leadership and support for the statewide alignment of instructional materials to college- and career-readiness standards?
Delaware provided strong leadership and support in this area.
The department regularly gathered all five types of data that SREB deemed key for helping states continuously improve, including data on the impact of participation in state professional learning and local curriculum alignment practices. Leaders and staff from across the agency, and educators, participated in analysis and discussion of the data. The department used the data in three ways to inform its work.
Table 2: Data the Department Gathered to Inform its Efforts
|Key types of data||Data sources|
Educator use of state guidance and instructional materials, and educator participation in the professional learning and technical assistance the department offered
Educator perceptions of the quality of the state’s offerings
Educator emerging needs
Impact of state offerings on measurable teacher or student outcomes
Local curriculum alignment practices
The department used this data to improve three of its supports for local instructional materials alignment:
- Professional learning and technical assistance for districts and schools
- Guidance and instructional materials
- Feedback to local leadership teams on their Common Ground for the Common Core implementation plans, and best practice suggestions for all districts
The department established the following routines to analyze data, discuss findings and determine actions to address identified needs:
- Offices from across the department used the agency’s College- and Career-Ready Plans to guide their efforts. The secretary of education, associate secretaries and directors from across the agency met three times a year to track progress on the plans.
- Department staff met monthly with district content specialists organized into literacy and math cadres, and with instructional coaches from all 19 districts.
As Delaware strives to continuously improve, state leaders may wish to consider the following recommendations.
- Enhance efforts to establish clear, rigorous and consistent conventions for identifying high-quality instructional materials aligned to state standards. The Delaware Department of Education used or recommended to districts several different sets of criteria for reviewing and developing instructional materials, one of which was developed by Delaware educators. Verify that all of the department’s review criteria fully reflect the content and rigor of the state’s standards—for example by submitting the criteria to trusted, third-party experts for review, or ensuring that the criteria are informed by nationally recognized tools. See state efforts to establish clear and consistent criteria described in the Florida, Louisiana, Maryland and North Carolina profiles.
- Continue to build the department’s repositories of online guidance and instructional materials, and establish processes to regularly review and update the content of the repositories to address emerging educator needs. See descriptions of strong state efforts to provide extensive and current on-demand tools in the Florida, Louisiana, Maryland and North Carolina profiles.
- Continue and enhance the state’s strong use of data to drive improvement. For example, build on the state’s examination of outcome data for some professional learning services to examine how educator use of other state services and materials impacts educator practice and student learning. See other strong state efforts to use data for continuous improvement described in the Arkansas, Tennessee and West Virginia profiles.