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Examining the Rise of Open Educational Resources in Math

CEMD's recent math reports reveal a rise in open educational resources (OERs), freely accessible curricula, in the national education market.

The Center for Education Market Dynamics • February 16, 2024

Two recent reports by the Center for Education Market Dynamics (CEMD) on products and quality in the K-8 math market revealed an interesting trend in the math market: the growing presence of Open Educational Resources (OERs) among top products. OERs, or curricula that are created and licensed to be freely accessible online to anyone, have been around for a while, but until recently were largely targeted towards and used by teachers; generally they have not had the content comprehensiveness or organizational wherewithal to be players in formal, district-level curriculum adoptions. But our data on math curriculum selection suggests that this is changing.

As shown in the figures below, both our elementary and middle school samples contain among top products “powerhouse OERs,” or open-access math curricula (with additional, paid features also available) that have begun to compete with large legacy providers for district adoptions, often within only a few years of launching.

Illustrative Mathematics exemplifies this trend for both elementary and middle school; Zearn, for elementary school (and Zearn has just debuted middle school curriculum). We also note that Eureka Math, a serious contender in both the elementary and middle school markets, is an updated version of EngageNY, the well-reputed OER developed for New York.


Figure of product series prevalence in district curriculum selection for elementary math with Eureka, Illustrative Mathematics, and Zearn circled. Figure of product series prevalence in district curriculum selection for middle school math with Illustrative Mathematics and Eureka circled. Figure of most commonly selected high-quality middle school math curricula* by districts with Illustrative Mathematics, Eureka, and Zearn* circled.

Looking ahead, CEMD will be watching to see the extent to which OERs continue to rise in prominence within the national education market. We will be paying close attention to Texas in particular, where the state legislature recently codified the inclusion of OERs in their list of state-approved curriculum, requiring the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to make OER materials available free of charge for PK-8 for Math and ELA, and for all core subjects in grades K-5. TEA plans to purchase or create OER curriculum for this purpose. Will Texas’ embrace of OERs have a ripple effect on curriculum across the country? We will be keeping a close eye on this question in the coming months and years.

Want more market insights aimed at improving outcomes for all students? Be sure to check out CEMD’s latest reports and resources.

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