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:
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.