- Teachers are increasingly turning to online sources for instructional materials that align with standards, even though their use of textbooks has remained stable, according to a RAND Corporation report on changes in teaching since the adoption of the Common Core state standards.
- Based on data from RAND's American Teacher Panel, a nationally representative sample of teachers who answer questions about issues affecting their profession, responses show English language arts teachers are having a harder time finding standards-aligned complex texts.
- Math teachers also report that their low-vulnerability students were less engaged in standards-aligned practices in 2017 than in 2016. While the reason for that finding is unclear, the authors write that those serving students with greater needs might be under more pressure to improve test scores and, as a result, are focusing more on standards-based instruction.
The report comes as research at the classroom level is showing students don't have equitable access to grade-level and standards-aligned assignments. In addition, professional development experts stress that teachers need more time to “unpack" and work with curriculum materials, especially as more districts turn to open educational resources to supplement textbooks.
The findings, the RAND researchers write, also address concerns that the academic performance of U.S. students — as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Program for International Student Assessment — has not significantly improved since most states began adopting the Common Core. “To make the major instructional shifts required by the Common Core, teachers need access to such resources as high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials to guide and support their teaching,” they write. “Textbook publishers have been very slow to make the changes demanded by new standards, and districts have been slow to adopt those materials which likely has had repercussions on forward progress of standards-based reforms.”
The researchers recommend more efforts to ensure that online instructional resources are aligned to standards, and that teachers, especially those working with more vulnerable students, have access to these resources. Teachers also need more support in selecting grade-level texts and organizing instruction around those texts, the report says.