When Selecting Materials, Relying on Numbers Is Not Enough

At Learning List, we are often asked, “Which material is the best?” While some organizations rank and/or rate materials, we do not. We do not sum a review up in a number or set of numbers or tell you which materials will be best for your students, because many variables affect the efficacy of a material. For example, how the material will be used, whether the material has the adaptions your students need and whether the district’s technology will support the full implementation of the product are all variables that affect which product is “best” for your students.


It’s human nature – when we see a rating or ranking, we are less likely to take the time to read the underlying review. Therefore, instead of ranking or rating materials, Learning List provides three easy-to-read, evidence-based reviews that examine publishers’ claims about their materials and give you the information you need to determine whether a material will meet your students’ unique needs:  

  1. Spec Sheet – an overview of the material’s key academic features and technology compatibility
  2. Alignment Report – a standard-by-standard review of the material’s alignment
  3. Editorial Review – a qualitative review of the material’s instructional content and design.

This blog provides more information about each review.  

Once we have completed our alignment review, we calculate an alignment percentage for each material. While the alignment percentage is an important indicator of a material’s quality and efficacy, we caution subscribers not to rely solely on the alignment percentage when selecting a material; they need to look at the alignment report, as well. Why? Because the alignment percentage is a quantitative indicator of the material’s alignment; it does not address whether the material is well enough aligned to meet your needs. The alignment report helps you answer that question by showing which standards the material is aligned to, citing specific locations within the material where each of those standards is aligned, and identifying where the material’s gaps are. Our alignment reports provide critical contextual information about the alignment and quality of the material that is not reflected in the alignment percentage alone.

Selecting instructional materials is one of the most important and most expensive decisions you make. Selecting the right material for your students requires intention and knowledge – a deeper knowledge about a material than a rating, ranking or even alignment percentage provides. Learning List’s reviews and tools empower you with the information you need to choose the right materials for your students and use them most effectively to help students learn.

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