Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Supporting Classroom Instruction: The Textbook Navigator/journal: Researchers Have Developed a Tool to Help Teachers Implement the Common Core by Letting Standards, Not Textbooks, Guide Their Instruction

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Supporting Classroom Instruction: The Textbook Navigator/journal: Researchers Have Developed a Tool to Help Teachers Implement the Common Core by Letting Standards, Not Textbooks, Guide Their Instruction

Article excerpt

Around the world, mathematics teachers rely on textbooks to support their classroom instruction. In other countries, there is a close connection between available textbooks to support teachers' instruction and the official standards that specify what students are to learn and what teachers are to teach. This connection is much looser in the U.S. as textbook publishers have been faced with producing curriculum materials to support as many different sets of standards as there are states and territories.

The introduction of the Common Core State Standards in mathematics in 2010 sought to address this challenge. However, articles in popular media, such as Education Week, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio, have noted that teachers are confronted with using current textbooks that were written to address last-century standards and don't line up well with the Common Core (Robelen, 2013, 2014; Chandler, 2014; Herold, 2014; Kotlarek, 2015; Turner, 2014). This creates a major barrier to the success of the new standards. Even newer textbooks reviewed by EdReports.org provide teachers with a substantial challenge to align instruction with the standards (EdReports.org, 2015).

The Textbook Navigator/Journal, developed by the Center for the Study of Curriculum at Michigan State University, is a web-based tool for aligning mathematics instruction with the Common Core. Using the Navigator, teachers can pick a standard and ask which portions of the textbook cover it, or they can use the Navigator to identify which Common Core standards are embodied in a particular lesson in the textbook. The Navigator lets teachers control their mathematics instruction, liberating them from rigidly following textbooks and allowing them to focus on teaching content their students are expected to learn.

The Navigator is based on the results of careful analyses of 34 textbook series and 185 individual mathematics textbooks (See Table 1). We used two criteria for choosing books. First, as part of a 2010 survey that included a random sample of school districts in the 45 states that had adopted the Common Core at that time, district curriculum directors were asked to indicate their current textbook series and when they expected to buy a new one. The responses to these questions were used to draw a sample of books that cumulatively would be used by about half of the students in the 45 states. Curriculum directors said most districts didn't plan to buy a new series for five years or more; one quarter of them are probably waiting a decade or more to buy new books. As a result, a substantial percentage of teachers will be expected to implement the Common Core with older, pre-Common Core textbooks.

Second, the research team sampled recently published books that were marketed as Common Core-aligned. We compared older textbooks to a small sample of the books (10) that seemed to best represent the new generation of textbooks even though they are not yet being widely used.

Once the books were selected, the research team organized a system of coding lessons in the textbooks to assess their alignment to the Common Core mathematics standards. The methodology used in coding the books is based on that used in the original Third International Mathematics and Science Study in 1995 (TIMSS). In TIMSS, trained coders analyzed more than 100 textbooks from about 40 countries. There was high cross-rater agreement with reliabilities ranging from 75% to 90% depending on the level of specificity of the codes. That same methodology was adapted to do research related to a Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Youth and as a part of the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress high school transcript study. As part of its effort to study Common Core implementation, the Center for the Study of Curriculum refined the coding framework from the TIMSS study, which focused on mathematics topics, to one that was defined by the Common Core standards. …

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