Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mixed Reviews of High School Mathematics Materials

EdReports.org, the nonprofit whose educator teams review instructional materials to determine alignment to Common Core standards, announced the results of its first round of reviews of high school mathematics textbooks. Five reports examining both three-course traditional (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II) and integrated (I, II, III) sequences were published today, along with the review tool and evidence guides educators used in the process.

Of the five reports, one series – Core Connections (CPM) – met criteria for alignment in all three review gateways.

“When we launched EdReports a year ago with our first round of reviews, we were overwhelmed by the response,” said Eric Hirsch, executive director of EdReports. “It was clear the community was hungry for our freely available, evidence-based reports, and educators were clamoring for information on what materials can best serve their classrooms. We see this need not only in the elementary and middle school grades but in high school, as well. I am delighted we have been able to respond to the demand with more evidence and more reviews.”

Reviewers noted positive evidence that can benefit teachers and students across all of the series.

Highlights from the first round of high school reviews include:
• Core Connections (CPM) (traditional): Met Expectations for Gateway 1, Gateway 2 and Gateway 3
• Carnegie Learning (traditional): Partially Met Expectations for Gateway 1 and Gateway 2
• Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (traditional): Did Not Meet Expectations for Gateway 1
• Pearson (integrated): Did Not Meet Expectations for Gateway 1
• Springboard College Board (traditional): Did Not Meet Expectations for Gateway 1

EdReports educators review materials based on criteria that measure alignment to the Common Core State Standards. The review tool for high school math, developed by the educators, shares characteristics with the K-8 math tool. One key similarity is that the tool supports a sequential review process, or review by gateways. Reviewers consider: Gateway 1) focus and coherence; Gateway 2) rigor and mathematical practices; and Gateway 3) instructional supports and other usability indicators.

Reviewers first ensure all of the high school standards are addressed in the series and that the materials make strong connections between the mathematical content, as opposed to teaching skills and concepts in isolation (focus and coherence). Only if materials meet or partially meet these criteria do reviewers then consider the rigor of the materials and evaluate connections to the mathematical practices. Finally, if the criteria for these first two gateways are at least partially met, the materials are reviewed for usability.

Although the high school math standards specify the content and skills students should learn to be college and career ready, they do not mandate the sequence of those courses or grade-level focus. As a result, the educator teams reviewed both traditional course sequences (Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II) as well as integrated course sequences with a single report available online for each series.

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