2020/03/04

Did you know: 1 out of 10 ELA classrooms are using pre-2012 materials.

That means millions of students across the country are missing out on almost a decade of innovations, progress, and new content during the course of their K-12 education. 

This data point is alarming because we know that instructional materials make a difference for student achievement. Research shows that students learn primarily through their interactions with teachers and content, and that aligned instructional materials affect classroom practice and the instruction students receive. For example, a 2018 study illustrated that teachers using aligned materials engaged students in mathematical practices at a significantly higher rate than teachers who did not use an aligned curriculum. 

Educators know how much materials matter, but they do not always have access to the quality content that their students deserve. In a survey from Scholastic, teachers identified having high-quality instructional materials and textbooks as a top funding priority yet only 18 percent of teachers believe that their district or school’s instructional materials are aligned to college and career-ready standards.

When teachers don’t have access to great materials, they spend valuable time searching for them online or create content themselves. A 2017 RAND analysis found that 96 percent of teachers use Google and 75 percent of teachers use Pinterest to find lessons and materials. These materials are mostly unvetted and of varying quality. Inconsistent access to aligned materials impacts student learning in schools across the country, but particularly hits schools that have a higher proportion of low income and students of color the most, perpetuating inequities and opportunity gaps.

Because of the critical role materials play in student learning and in leveling the playing field, it is vital for all stakeholders to have a better understanding of the materials market—specifically, what high-quality, standards-aligned programs are available and how teachers are using them. At EdReports, our 2019 State of the Market research aims to provide just that. 

This annual study draws upon data from EdReports reviews, information about publisher and copyright dates, and data from the American Teacher Panel (ATP) nationally representative survey on ELA and math curriculum use during the 2018– 2019 school year to better understand the following questions: 

  • How aligned to the standards are the materials on the market?
  • What do we know about what is being regularly used in classrooms—including the use of aligned materials? 
  • Is there a relationship between the length of time that an EdReports review has been available for a program and the percent of market share for that program? 

Highlights from this year’s report include:

  • In less than five years, EdReports has reviewed more than 90 percent of the known K-12 mathematics and English language arts materials market.
  • The availability of standards-aligned materials is increasing
    • Of the English language arts materials EdReports has reviewed:
      • 42% meets expectations for alignment
      • 39% partially meet expectations for alignment
      • 19% do not meet expectations for alignment
    • Of the mathematics materials EdReports has reviewed:
      • 31% meet expectations for alignment
      • 28% partially meet expectations for alignment
      • 42% do not meet expectations for alignment
  • Despite availability, aligned materials are not being widely used in classrooms
    • Only 16% of ELA materials used by teachers in classrooms are aligned
    • Only 26% of math materials used by teachers in classrooms are aligned
    • 1 out of 10 ELA classrooms are using pre-2012 materials

Our full 2019 State of the Market report will be published this spring. Sign up for our email list to be notified of its release as well as the latest news and resources about how information about instructional materials is shaping the market, what’s being used in classrooms, and our recommendations for ensuring that all students have access to aligned, quality content that will prepare them for college and careers.

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