Since the beginning of Common Core implementation, finding high-quality, Common Core-aligned materials has been challenging. Thanks to the good work of educators, there has been significant improvement in the quality and alignment of instructional materials. However, there are certain standards and content areas for which there is still a need for better materials. To meet this need, Achieve and Student Achievement Partners (SAP) worked together to develop a plan to highlight and share instructional materials addressing priority Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – standards where existing instructional materials were routinely missing the mark. This work commenced with a convening of experts and practitioners to identify priority standards for both mathematics and English language arts/literacy in grades K–8. Their findings can be found here (mathematics) and here (ELA/literacy).
With the priority standards identified, Achieve released a Call to Action looking for aligned units. The call outlined specific focus areas in math and ELA/literacy in elementary and middle school. Classroom teachers, districts, and small, non-profit organizations responded to the call by sharing their personally created units addressing these priority standards.
In order to ensure the submissions were of high quality and aligned to the CCSS, all submissions were reviewed by Achieve’s EQuIP Peer Review Panel, an existing group of current and former teachers representing more than 1,000 years of teaching expertise. The evaluation process is rigorous and involves teams of three reviewers measuring each submission against the EQuIP Rubrics. From this process, detailed, criterion-based feedback was created and shared with the developers. This step alone proved to be incredibly valuable for the developers since the feedback was specific and content-based while also addressing CCSS alignment. The submissions that were found to be Exemplary by the review panel were awarded a $1,500 stipend and published on both SAP’s and Achieve’s websites.
The original call concluded in June 2015 with 79 submissions, from which 15 were identified as Exemplary. These early submissions came from small developers and classroom teachers, some of whom had never designed materials for broad dissemination before. When asked about the experience, teachers stressed how valuable the feedback was that they received from the panel. In particular, teachers appreciated the content focus of the feedback.
Though a small set of units was identified as Exemplary, they stand as examples to inform the expectations of teachers, schools, and districts looking for high quality, Common Core-aligned materials. Additionally, they shine a light on outstanding, teacher-created work.
With the goal of identifying exemplary units for the remaining priority standards, Achieve and SAP have re-released the call for units. The process has now expanded to include high school units, with experts and practitioners identifying high school priority standards during a convening in early September 2015. Both the K–8 and the 9-12 Call to Actions are still accepting submissions with the first round deadline in late October followed by a final deadline in February of 2016.
After reading the Call to Action documents, if you would like to submit a unit addressing the priority standards, we invite you to submit your materials at http://lessons.achieve.org/ for a chance to be awarded $1500 if your unit is rated Exemplary by the EQuIP review team.