Research continues to demonstrate that instructional materials have a direct impact on student learning outcomes.

  • A study from the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard estimated that in fourth and fifth grade math, switching to a top ranked textbook would translate to student achievement gains of 3.6 percentile points—larger than the improvement of a typical teacher’s effectiveness in their first three years on the job when they are learning to teach. (Kane, 2016).
  • A 2017 study reveals giving middle school math teachers access to inquiry-based lesson plans and online support significantly improves student learning outcomes. The study notes, “The effect on learning was about the same as moving from an average-performing teacher to one at the 80th percentile.”

The price of placing strong curricula in the classroom is not necessarily higher than using weak ones, and is often more cost-effective than other reforms.

  • “Textbooks are relatively inexpensive and tend to be similarly priced. The implication is that the marginal cost of choosing a more effective textbook over a less effective alternative is essentially zero.” (Polikoff and Koedel, 2017)
  • The average cost-effectiveness ratio of switching to higher-quality curriculum was almost 40 times that of class-size reduction. (Boser, Chingos and Straus 2015)

Despite the impact materials can have and their cost-effectiveness compared to other reforms, schools, districts, and states lack trusted, transparent information about the quality of the materials and resources they use to guide instruction. Due to the lack of information, selection decisions often privilege factors other than alignment.

Teachers know that materials matter, and that they do not always have access to the quality that their students deserve. That’s why they spend more than 12 hours per week searching for and creating instructional resources (free and paid). Teachers draw these materials from a variety of sources, many of them unvetted:

  • 97% Google
  • 85% Pinterest
  • 79% Teachers Pay Teachers

Without the support of high-quality materials, teachers lose valuable time that could be spent differentiating lessons, making sure the content works for their students, and inspiring a love of learning in all students. It also means that the curriculum found in classrooms across the country varies in alignment and quality.

Access to high-quality materials is an equity issue. A 2015 study found that low-income students are less likely than high-income students to have quality content and curriculum in the classroom. We understand that until all students have access to the best materials, the transformative power of education cannot be realized.

“As it stands now, students’ chances to learn challenging content depend on whether they are lucky enough to attend a school that provides it. In effect, a defense of localism in questions about content amounts to a defense of inequality in opportunity to learn.”
– Dr. William Schmidt 2013, 2015
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