Information on our webinar in partnership with the CDE:

The Role of High-Quality Instructional Materials to Support Distance Learning


 The Value of High-Quality Instructional Materials in Distance Learning

The Challenge: As districts seek flexible approaches to teaching and learning, the reliance on instructional materials to support high-quality instruction has increased. Research demonstrates that instructional materials matter for student success. It mattered before COVID-19 —and it will matter even more as teachers transform approaches to teaching and learning in ways that ensure all students have equitable access to content that supports college and career readiness.

There is a critical need for coherent, standards-aligned curricula that support students, teachers, and parents to know what content will be taught all year long. Digital specifications, and now the ability to use materials remotely, has never been more important. There is growing demand and need for curriculum to better support the needs of all students, especially as schools physically reopen.

A  new study from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) projects the following as a result of the crisis:

learning gains 2020 graphic

This has demonstrated the importance of curriculum in supporting students’ to become college and career-ready. The approaches used over the coming months and even into next year can have significant short and long-term effects.

The Role of Instructional Materials to Address this Challenge: Teachers need a coherent, standards-aligned, curriculum to support distance learning. If you have strong materials, teachers can focus on adapting instruction for distance learning and to the needs of their students. If you have misaligned or incoherent materials or materials that lack a strong platform, teachers spend their time looking for materials, which results in time lost in adapting their instruction to the distance learning environment. 

Ideal State: In an ideal world, all districts would already be using high-quality curriculum options. Starting with quality makes the path forward much more clear  in student- and teacher-facing work and  engaging students in college and career standards  over the course of weeks and months during the school year. Additionally, high-quality materials ensure students have access to standards-aligned, grade-level materials and instruction—a key equity challenge. With strong instructional materials in place,, students are able to benefit from a fully sequenced, coherent learning experience whether they are in-person or learning remotely. Teachers are then able to spend their time supporting students through differentiation, scaffolding and navigating the new requirements of a distance learning environment. 


About Distance Learning and Digital Instructional Materials

What is distance learning?
What are high-quality instructional materials?
What makes materials suitable for distance learning?

District Profiles for Leveraging Instructional Materials in Distance Learning


This crisis has illuminated inequities in curriculum availability, quality, and use within and across districts and schools. Districts without comprehensive curricula are scrambling to find multiple weeks’ worth of content to share either in packets or in online classrooms. Other districts may have quality, standards aligned curricula, but are struggling with implementation in a distance learning environment. Here are four hypothetical profiles of what a district may have experienced with regard to high-quality instructional materials (HQIM):

district profiles2


In planning and preparing for future distance learning situations, here are some key questions and possible next steps to consider 

Question 1: Do I have high-quality materials?
Question 2: Do I have high-quality materials that provide the contents and support for effective distance learning?
Question 3: How can I make the most of high-quality materials in a distance learning environment?