State of the education market: Are schools giving educators what they want?

Teachers want materials that support culturally relevant instruction and engage multilingual learners.

Teachers are experiencing a mismatch between the learning materials they want and the ones they are getting, an annual report on the multibillion-dollar educational materials market has found. Researchers also questioned whether that disconnect is forcing them to turn to the internet to find unproven resources to fill the gap.

More specifically, teachers want more standards-aligned materials that support culturally relevant instruction and engage multilingual learners, according to “State of the Instructional Materials Market 2021” byEdReports, a nonprofit that provides free reviews of instructional materials.

The annual report gauges the use and availability of teaching materials that are aligned to college and career-ready standards, and how lessons are being modified or supplemented. This year, the study also analyzed if educators have access to culturally relevant content that supports a diversity of student needs.

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“The 2020-21 school year was unlike any other, and while teachers’ use of standards-aligned materials remained consistent from 2020 into 2021, they were also supplementing with resources found on places such as Google and Pinterest at higher rates,” said Eric Hirsch, EdReports’ executive director. “In watching this trend, and assessing the impact of the pandemic, we should all be asking: are all students receiving access to the grade-level content and supports they need to learn and grow?”

EdReports has reviewed approximately 98% of the available math and English language arts materials and found that more than half of the math and 45% of the ELA products meet expectations for standards alignment. Here are the report’s key findings on how the evolving K-12 market is impacting classrooms:

  1. The availability of standards-aligned instructional materials continues to increase.
  2. Despite the disruptions of COVID, the use of aligned materials has remained consistent with previous years.
  3. Regardless of alignment, teachers are modifying their instructional materials at similar rates.
  4. Few teachers say their learning materials either align with state standards, offer support for multilingual learners or contain culturally relevant content.
  5. Implementing high-quality instructional materials is most successful when there is supportive leadership, ongoing coaching and professional development. But this is not the experience teachers report having.

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More than 80% of teachers said having culturally relevant content is somewhat important or extremely important to them but fewer than a quarter described their curriculum as adequate. The report encourages administrators to involve teachers in the selection of new learning materials.

Neven Holland, a fourth-grade teacher and EdReports fellow, said teachers are looking for standards-based materials that offer guidance on supporting diverse learners and that are inclusive of a variety of communities. “I’m looking for a curriculum that is truly student-centered, where students can engage in the mathematical practices and be challenged to think critically,” Holland said. “If the materials don’t connect, the kids are not going to pay attention.”

The report list several state and district efforts to give teachers a key role in designing curricula:

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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