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 Center for Education Statistics, as of June 2022, 62 percent of public schools were concerned about filling staff vacancies and expected to have three teacher vacancies (on average) for the 2022-23 school year.

Teacher shortages often lead to merged classrooms and teacher reassignments. Teachers who are newly assigned to teach a grade level and course may lack expertise in the subject area, in the standards, and sometimes even in pedagogy. For such teachers, their instructional materials become a critical safety net for themselves and for their students. However, if the materials are not high quality, if they are not aligned to state standards, or if they are not easy to use, they may be a sieve rather than a safety net, for teachers and students, alike.

Are your instructional materials a sieve or a safety net? Learning List’s reviews and comparison tools make it easy to find out if the materials you are currently using or may be considering buying will teach your students what they need to know to be successful.  

poor quality instructional materials metaphor- image of a sieve
  • Our detailed alignment reports show specifically where (e.g., specific page numbers, lesson titles) the material is aligned to each standard and identify the standards to which the material is not aligned.
  • If a material is not aligned to 100% of the state’s standards for a grade level or course, our Fill-in-the-Gap™ tool recommends additional core or supplemental materials that align to the remaining standards.
  • Our Compare Alignment tool allows you to do a standard-by-standard alignment comparison of multiple materials, making it easy to select a new, standards-aligned instructional material or to select from your existing materials when planning instruction or engaging in curriculum writing or instructional alignment. 
  • Beyond assessing the alignment of materials, our evidence-based editorial reviews asses each product’s instructional quality to make it easy for educators to determine which materials will meet their needs and support their students. These reviews evaluate the material’s rigor, vertical alignment, student engagement, supports for special student populations, and resources for teachers, as well as the product’s design and ease-of-use. For example, our reviews highlight which products are text heavy, requiring students to read extensively; which materials provide text features and videos to support student learning of key concepts; and which resources chunk learning in manageable segments with regular checks for understanding and consistently embedded activities. 
  • Finally, our technology reviews test the material’s compatibility with the devices and systems campuses and districts use. Our tech reviews help district and campus leaders support teachers’ use of their materials and avoid making expensive mistakes.

With so many teachers in new positions for the new school year, it is critical for district and campus leaders to ensure that their materials are standards-aligned and high-quality. Learning List’s reviews and comparison tools make it easy to assess whether a material will support or undermine your teachers’ and students’ success. 


[i] Research Report: A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand and Shortages in the U.S., Learning Policy Institute, September 2016

[ii]Nearly 1 out of 5 classes in California taught by underprepared teachers,” EdSource, June 30, 2022

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