What to Expect from Supplemental Materials

A supplemental resource is designed to complement and support comprehensive materials. Publishers design supplemental resources for different purposes, including to:

  • help students learn the content and practice the skills contained in all of the standards for a particular grade and subject;7th Grade Supplemental Math
  • offer some of the same resources as comprehensive materials to support students in learning a specific subset of standards (e.g., writing standards, Personal Financial Literacy, etc…);
  • target specific standards with which students typically struggle;
  • build skills addressed across grade level standards; or
  • support specific student learning needs, such as the needs of English language learners, students with disabilities, or advanced learners.

Supplemental materials vary in the percentage of standards they intend to address. Some intend to align to all grade-level standards, but most do not.  A supplemental resource that is aligned to only 50% of the grade-level standards may be the best material to select if it is aligned to the standards you need it to teach.  Similarly, a resource that intends to build vocabulary may do so effectively even though it is aligned to fewer than 10% of the grade level standards because it does not teach the other content and skills the standards require. Thus, such a product may be a great addition to your district’s instructional arsenal despite its low alignment percentage. [Read more…]

Bottom line: It is critically important to look beyond the alignment percentages of supplemental materials in order to use them effectively. Learning List’s editorial review explains the intended purpose of each material, and our alignment comparison tool and alignment reports identify the standards to which each material is aligned.

Supplemental materials typically have fewer components than comprehensive materials and vary significantly in their offerings. For example, some supplemental products include assessment resources and monitoring tools; others do not.

The rigor of supplemental materials also varies based on the material’s intended purpose. Supplemental materials intended for remediation, review, or to support students’ independent study may strive to pose fewer challenges in the content they present and in their reading levels in order to ensure materials are accessible to students with limited teacher support. In contrast, supplemental materials designed to extend and enhance students’ understanding may present deeper discussions of topics and more complex activities that require students to apply their learning in new and innovative ways. Such materials are generally intended for classroom use with teacher guidance and support.

Because supplemental materials are intended for different purposes, it is difficult to state what to expect from a supplemental resource. As stated above, not all supplemental materials are intended to help students master the standards; some are skill builders, some target specific content, and others address particular students’ needs. If a supplemental resource is standards-focused, however, it will only be effective if it is aligned to the standards you are using it to teach.

Like comprehensive materials, supplemental products differ significantly in price, with no observable relationship between the price and percentage of standards addressed. Thus, comparison shopping is essential to ensure you get the product you need at the best value for your district/campus.

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