Overcoming Challenges of Standards Alignment

Are materials as poorly aligned as teachers perceive? Learning List has reviewed the alignment of over 3,300 widely used PreK-12 instructional materials. Our subject matter experts review the citations (e.g., lessons, activities, assessments) listed in each publisher’s correlation for alignment to the content , context, and cognitive rigor of each standard. We find that core materials are generally aligned to most (though not all) of the standards. The alignment of supplemental materials is much more variable. So, why do teachers perceive that their core instructional materials are not aligned? Here are three reasons: (1) Publishers’ vs teachers’ definition of alignment : Many publishers consider a citation to be aligned to a standard if the citation addresses the concept of the standard or any part of the standard. Educators have a much more granular definition of alignment. Educators consider a citation to be aligned to a standard only if it addresses the content, context, and cognitive rigor of the standard. Teachers lose faith in a material when the publisher’s correlation (or search by standard feature) includes citations that educators consider not aligned or only partially aligned to the standards. (2) Construction of publishers’ correlations : Standards typically are compound and complex sentences that have multiple parts. Instructional materials, especially core materials often scaffold instruction of each standard across multiple chapters or even units. For example, the material may introduce the standard in one chapter, provide practice and reinforcement in another chapter, and assess mastery of the standard in a third chapter. Thus, the publishers’ correlations often include many citations for each standard, only one or two of which intend(s) to address the standard in its entirety. M ost teachers do not understand this about publishers’ correlations and expect each citation listed for a standard to be aligned to the standard completely. Teachers get disenchanted with a material when they use citations from the publisher’s correlation and realize that they only partially address the standard.


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