Don’t Get Too Excited, Dept.

From an article at “The 74” about the rating of textbooks for conformity/alignment with Common Core we have this:

“With funding from the Gates Foundation and others, EdReports initially released reports last year on elementary and middle school math materials, finding mixed results. Its latest review focuses on five series of high school math textbooks. EdReports enlists and trains educators to score instructional material, including textbooks. Scorers first rate “focus and coherence,” meaning the extent to which the material covers the standards and whether content is connected so that students can understand the relationship between different concepts. For example, coherent instructional materials frequently return to previously learned skills and explain their relationship to new content. The group uses what it calls a “gateway” approach, meaning that textbook series scoring poorly on the focus and coherence indicators aren’t judged on any of the other criteria. Such was the fate for publishers of three of the recently reviewed series: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson, and the College Board.

“The one math series to make it to the usability gateway, receiving high marks on all three main criteria, was produced by the nonprofit publishing company CPM Educational Program.”

The thing to keep in mind is that alignment/conformity with Common Core math standards does not mean that the book is effective. Secondly, books judged to NOT meet the criteria are not necessarily bad. That said, having used CPM’ algebra textbook, I can say that it is confusing, based on discovery, and when I used it as a student teacher, my supervising teacher often had to give a “supplementary lesson” for the students who didn’t pick up what the discovery lesson was supposed to impart. Which was most of the class.

The CPM middle and high school series has been adopted in my school district (San Luis Coastal USD) whose superintendent is of a constructivist “mindset” (to use a Jo Boaler term, please forgive me), and the principals reporting to him seem to be of similar ilk.

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