Materials Adaptation, Research and Reflections, Tools and Resources

Six Instructional Materials Articles You Should Be Reading

Keep up-to-date with the latest media coverage of instructional materials

Common Core-aligned instructional materials have been a popular topic for the education media this summer. From changes in the traditional textbook marketplace to the growth of free, open-source digital materials, the shift from the status quo has attracted a lot of attention. Below are links to six articles published this summer covering different aspects of the instructional materials landscape.


Title: How Common Core is Killing the Textbook

Author: Rachel Monaham (Hechinger Report)

Synopsis: This article discusses the paradigm shift away from traditional textbooks to digital curricula and district/teacher-designed options. The author suggests that the change is partially related to common standards allowing content to be applicable and shareable across states. The lack of truly Common Core-aligned options from traditional textbook publishers has also led some districts to try different options such as designing their own curriculum or using free, open-source curriculum options such as EngageNY.


Title: Why Is This Marketplace for Teachers to Sell Their Lesson Plans Thriving?

Author: Madeleine Cummings (Slate)

Synopsis: This article describes the popularity of the website Teachers Pay Teachers, a marketplace where teachers can buy and sell lessons and resources. The article posits that the site is so successful, in part, because educators are searching for Common Core-aligned content they aren’t finding in existing curriculum materials.

The article explains that, though materials on the site are not reviewed by a third party for Common Core alignment, teachers are more likely to trust fellow educators than they are publishers when it comes to whether materials are actually Common Core-aligned.


Title: How Washington Is Using OERs to Support Common Core

Author: Christopher Piehler (The Journal)

Synopsis: In this Q&A interview, the Director of Digital Learning for Washington State explains why the state has made open educational resources an integral part of its efforts to help teachers identify Common Core-aligned instructional materials.


Title: N.Y. ‘Open’ Education Effort Draws Users Nationwide

Author: Sean Cavanagh (Education Week)

Synopsis: This article provides an in-depth look at the pros and cons of open educational resources and how the EngageNY curriculum has been pivotal in the shift to open educational resources. (Its materials have been downloaded more than 20 million times by users across the country.)

Title: Digital Needs Fuel Common-Core Curricular Choices

Author: Michelle R. Davis (Education Week)

Synopsis: As districts increasingly prioritize the incorporation of digital tools into their curricula (or, in some cases, opt for an entirely digital curriculum) there are new considerations to be taken into account during the instructional materials selection process. Curriculum designers are also adapting, working to meet district expectations for both Common Core alignment and digital innovation.

Title: Common Core and Textbooks: Out of Alignment?

Author: Amelia Pak-Harvey (Education Writers Association)

Synopsis: This article summarizes the 2015 Education Writers Association panel discussion that focused on Common Core alignment of instructional materials. Researcher Morgan Polikoff explains that, while initially, most textbook publishers made few revisions, the fear of losing business from more informed districts has led many publishers to redesign their materials to be more Common Core-aligned. With more and more Common Core-aligned resources available for free, many districts are turning away from traditional textbooks altogether, says Polikoff. Some experts caution, however, that using OER lessons and units (instead of a single curriculum) could lead to more fragmented instruction.

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About the Author: Student Achievement Partners is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving student achievement through evidence-based action. Founded by some of the lead writers of the Common Core State Standards, the organization works closely with educators and other partners in the education field ensure the promise of the Common Core is realized in classrooms across the country