5 Tips for Using Materials Strategically to Close Learning Gaps

Selecting materials for closing learning gaps: image of woman with too many choices

Selecting materials to remediate students’ learning gaps can be a daunting task. If you have access to multiple materials, and you are feeling overwhelmed by the choices, here are five tips to help you identify which of your current materials to use and how to use them effectively to address your students’ learning gaps.  (1) Use available assessment data to identify your students’ …

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Are Teachers’ Doubts About The Alignment of Their K-12 Materials Correct?

Standards alignment percentage of supplemental materials

According to the 2021 Survey Results of the RAND Corporation’s American Instructional Resources Surveys, over 90% of the teachers surveyed consider standards alignment an important characteristic in their district-provided instructional materials (question 34). Yet, only between 36-41% of the surveyed teachers (depending on the content area) perceive that their district-purchased materials help their students master their state’s math, English language …

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Are Your Materials A Safety Net or a Sieve?

The mass resignation of teachers and resulting nationwide teacher shortages highlight the importance of having high-quality instructional materials. Prior to the pandemic, Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Washington[i] were among the states experiencing severe shortages of fully-prepared, credentialed teachers. During the 2020-21 school year, nearly 20 percent of California’s K-12 classrooms were taught by underprepared teachers.[ii] And, according to the National …

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Fuel Student Achievement By Building a Culture of Standards Alignment

In our high-stakes testing and accountability environment, academic success is rooted in students’ mastery of the state standards. State standards dictate what students must know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. Preparing all students with the content knowledge and skills contained in the standards requires campus and district leaders to be focused on aligning instruction with the state standards.

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Tips and Tools for Tutoring

Repurposing your existing materials for tutoring has several advantages: it saves the district money, and it saves students and teachers the stress of having to become familiar with a new material. The challenge in repurposing your materials for tutoring is identifying suitable content that you have not already used. 

Side-by-side comparison of three math products.

Learning List’s alignment reports and Alignment Comparison tool make it easy to identify content in your current materials that you can use for tutoring. However, here are three steps for accomplishing this task without our tools.

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Strategies for Reviewing Adaptive Materials

Over the last year, many of our subscribing districts requested reviews of adaptive materials. The concept behind adaptive materials is admirable: different content is presented to each student based upon the student’s performance on each task or assessment. In essence, these products offer the promise of an individualized instruction for each student.

However, districts should not assume that “adaptive” means “aligned to standards.” Many adaptive materials assign content based on skill mastery rather than mastery of the standards. Based on our experience, districts would be advised to carefully review the alignment of adaptive materials to the standards they are needed to support before using them.

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Alignment: Intervention & Test Prep Materials

As we near the end of the school year, your focus may be on intervention and testing. We offer three suggestions to help you prepare your students for end-of-year success.
Make sure your intervention materials are aligned to the standards you are reteaching. Using tightly aligned materials will reduce your workload and make intervention more effective. Many intervention materials are not designed to align to 100% of state standards. Make sure the material(s) you are using for intervention are aligned to the standards you are re-teaching. Verify that the citations (e.g., lessons, activities, assessments) you plan to use address both the content and rigor of the standards your students need to learn.

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The Importance of Using Standards-Aligned Materials

In a recent article titled, “Four Ways State Leaders Can Help Teachers Implement High Quality Curriculum,” the author discusses how state policymakers can support the reopening of schools for a successful school year. She encourages policymakers to “Provide clear and simple guidance to ensure all content is standards-aligned and offer examples of what that may look like for in-person and virtual settings.” 

Tablet computer

As districts searched for new online materials to support at-home learning, technology compatibility may have driven their purchasing decisions. Now that they are having to use the materials, alignment should be an important consideration. Here are three reasons why understanding the standards alignment of materials being used for at-home learning is critical to students’ academic success.

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A Seismic Shift in Science Materials

Over the last several years, we have reviewed hundreds of science materials aligned to state standards, Advanced Placement frameworks, and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Over the last two years, we have observed a significant design shift in science products. Using the 5E model and Project Based Learning (PBL), publishers are designing science instruction to engage students in doing science, rather than learning about science. Where traditional instructional materials might present information and ask students to respond through short-answer or multiple-choice questions, newer materials provide teachers with resources to facilitate inquiry-based science instruction. 

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Factors to Consider When Selecting Intervention Materials

Bernd Klutsch

When our Learning List team talks to district staff, we hear a variety of responses to the question, “How are you currently selecting resources to support Tier I intervention?” Answers range from systemic processes with district-wide solutions to teachers each selecting their own materials from multiple sources. The results of intervention are equally varied. Ensuring successful intervention requires consideration of multiple factors that can be addressed by answering the following questions:

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