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Three Things We Love About EdReports’ ‘State of the Instructional Materials Market’ Report

High-quality curriculum matters. Discover three reasons why CEMD is optimistic about EdReports' instructional materials market analysis.

The Center for Education Market Dynamics • February 14, 2024

Recognizing the profound impact of high-quality curriculum on teaching and learning, EdReports recently conducted an analysis on the state of the instructional materials’ market. Aimed at illuminating the myriad and complex forces that drive curriculum selection, this report aligns deeply with our work here at the Center for Education Market Dynamics (CEMD): demystifying the curriculum landscape, and making more and better information available to the decision makers who need it most. With this aim in mind, here are three things we love about EdReports’ analysis:

1. It highlights shifts in the education market that make us optimistic about the uptake of high-quality curriculum.

The availability of and demand for high-quality instructional materials has risen considerably since 2019, EdReports researchers underscore. Over the past three years, there have been 8 and 15-percent increases in the availability of standards-aligned ELA and math materials, respectively. The demand for such curricula is also on the rise, they note, prompting more publishers to ensure that their newer materials align to standards and meet the needs of diverse learners.

2. It tells a data-driven story, using a wide variety of sources to paint a picture of the education market and make predictions.

While there is reason to be hopeful about the future of the instructional materials’ market, it is difficult to envision what that future might look like without knowing the reasons why current curricular shifts are occurring. What forces are driving them, and how might they continue to shape the market?

To understand the full picture, EdReports researchers synthesized data from EdReports reviews, curriculum copyright dates, ESSER spending reports, and responses from the RAND Corporation American Instructional Resources Survey (AIRS) on curriculum use, teacher perception, and school context. They found that teacher mindset is likely to have played a significant role in the increased uptake of high-quality curriculum, noting that, “educators are turning to aligned curriculum because the materials better meet their instructional needs. Teachers recognize and data supports that access to high-quality aligned instructional materials makes a difference in the instruction students receive.”

In addition, they note that “unprecedented funds” stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic is likely a source of the uptick in the use of standards-aligned materials: 58% of teachers using such materials indicated that they began this practice within the last three years, a time period which overlaps with pandemic-era funding that made it more feasible for districts and states to
“[make] purchasing decisions that supported the increase in use of aligned programs.”

3. It concludes with concrete calls to action grounded in meeting the needs of all students.

Although the uptake of high-quality curriculum has increased, it is far from ubiquitous, with just 36 and 48 percent of teachers using at least one aligned ELA and math curriculum, respectively. “That is not good enough to ensure all students become college and career ready,” EdReports emphasizes, noting three key strategies states and districts can employ to ensure all students have access to standards-aligned materials.

With nearly $72 billion, or 38 percent of ESSER funds remaining, the first strategy involves channeling this unspent money towards increasing access to these resources. The second strategy hinges on creating an implementation plan involving curriculum-aligned professional learning, which research shows is vital in increasing a curriculum’s impact. Finally, EdReports highlights the importance of teacher voice in the curriculum selection and adoption process in order to increase the engagement and buy-in of educators, thus making it more likely that materials will be used effectively.

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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