How can districts tell if a curriculum is high in quality? How can they tell if it’s comprehensive, standards-aligned, and, all-in-all, worth piloting? When it comes time for a new adoption, your district might struggle to pick out the best curricula to pilot and review. After all, the sheer volume of curricular options is immense.
A big part of conducting a successful curriculum review process is making sure that the curricula under review are of high quality in the first place.
What if you started your review with only the strongest curricula? Imagine how much time you would save.
How can a district review only the best curricula?
Gathering as much information on prospective curricula is key, and thanks to trusted resources like EdReports, districts can access details and compare options with greater ease.
EdReports is an organization that publishes evidence-based reviews of instructional materials. The organization supports smart adoption processes that equip teachers with high-quality curricula.
EdReports reviewsEdReports.org developed a review tool that helps educators and district leaders make informed decisions about the quality of instructional materials. Expert reviewers use the tool to “evaluate yearlong sets of [ELA and math curricula] against non-negotiable criteria…”
According to EdReports:
The tool builds on the experiences of educators, curriculum experts, and leading rubric developers and organizations that have conducted reviews of materials, lessons, and tasks including:
- Achieve, Inc.
- The Council of Great City Schools
- The Dana Center
- Illustrative Mathematics Project
- The National Council of Teacher of Mathematics
- Student Achievement Partners
Educator reviewers spend hundreds of hours examining math and ELA materials. Each team of reviewers spends 25 hours training on the EdReports review tool and process and then several months sharing evidence and coming to a consensus on what the score of the materials should be. The organization makes sure that the review tool is applied consistently among teams.
A tool that bolsters credibility
EdReports’s tool for reviewing curricula is made up of a gateway system that guides reviewers through a sequential review process. The three gateways reflect the importance of both standards alignment and other aspects of curricula that educators regard as high quality.
Gateway 1 (Focus and Coherence) prompts reviewers to gauge if instructional materials focus on the CCSS major work on the grade and if they’re coherent.
Gateway 2 (Rigor and Mathematical Practices) focuses on whether or not instructional materials meet the CCSS expectations for rigor and mathematical practices.
Gateway 3 (Instructional Supports and Other Usability Indicators) asks: Does the instructional material support high-quality instruction?
Reviewers can only move on to review Gateway 2 if the instructional materials meet expectations for alignment in Gateway 1, and can only review Gateway 3 if they meet expectations for alignment in Gateway 2. In other words:
After curricula are reviewed, their scores are posted on EdReports.org. The compare sections of EdReports’ site give visual snapshots of the strengths and weaknesses of curricula along with which grade bands are covered by different options.
The greener the curriculum, the better.
Want to explore materials that are all green on EdReports? Check out LearnZillion Illustrative Mathematics’ scores to see what makes up a high-quality curriculum.
Emily Priborkin is the Marketing Communications Specialist at LearnZillion. A musical theatre nerd at heart, she'll gladly recite and perform all of the music from Les Misérables as a solo act.