Five Tips for Reviewing the Alignment of Materials

Over the summer, many educators engage in instructional planning, including verifying the alignment of the materials they intend to use during the upcoming school year. Reviewing the alignment of materials is great professional development for educators. Team Meeting

Having reviewed well over 2000 materials for alignment to various state and Advanced Placement standards, we share these five pointers to assist in your alignment reviews: [Read More …]

(1) Agree on the definition of “alignment”
Make sure that all educators are using the same yardstick – the same definition of alignment. Most educators agree that to be aligned, a material must teach the content knowledge the standards require, at the rigor the standard demands and in the correct context. At Learning List, we review materials to the content, cognitive demand, and context of each standard.

(2) Agree on the number of citations to review for alignment to each standard
Publisher’s correlations differ significantly in number, specificity and scope of the citations listed. Some publishers list a few citations as aligned to each standard; others list more than 30 citations for each standard. Are you going to review every citation listed or just sample?  At Learning List, we review multiple citations for alignment to each standard with the hope/goal of finding several aligned citations that educators can use to teach or reteach each standard.

(3) Assign multiple reviewers to mitigate inherent subjectivity
Reviewing the alignment of a material is an inherently subjective endeavor. If your goal is an objective alignment review, have multiple, experienced teachers who are certified in the grade and subject review the material at each grade level. The reviewers can review separately but simultaneously; collaboratively; or sequentially. At Learning List, multiple reviewers review each material sequentially with quality assurance checks after each review. We have found that it is helpful to have a process by which each reviewer provides comments to explain his/her rationale if a citation is found not to be aligned. That way, if another reviewer or subscribing teacher questions an alignment decision, the reviewers’ rationale is provided.

(4) Review supplemental as well as comprehensive materials 
Often, teachers spend their time reviewing the alignment of their core materials. However, many teachers prefer to use a combination of supplemental materials instead of their core material; other teachers use supplemental materials to shore up students’ learning gaps. Therefore, it is just as important to review the alignment of supplemental materials.

We have found that supplemental materials vary significantly in their alignment to standards, even within the same product line. Most don’t even intend to align to every standard.

If you want to improve student learning with supplemental materials, we highly recommend that you verify that your materials are aligned to the standards you’re using them to teach.

(5) Make sure there is textual evidence of alignment
Some publishers’ correlations simply contain a list of standards to which the material claims to be aligned; they do not list specific citations (i.e., pages/lessons/videos within the material) where each standard is taught. It is our experience that if a material does not contain the textual evidence (i.e., specific citations) to support a claim of alignment, educators should not use that material to teach the standards. Use it to engage students, use it to reward students, but if you cannot verify that the material is aligned to the standards the publisher claims, do not use that material to teach those standards.


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