A new report from the Center for American Progress analyses how schools could increase pupil achievement through curriculum reform, that is the teaching materials used by teachers such as textbooks, workbooks, and software.
The authors focused on the curricula used in primary maths classes in 19 US states. They were able to analyse the relationship between price and quality by comparing the price of materials with the findings of a randomised controlled trial conducted by the Institute of Education Sciences which looked at the effectiveness of teaching materials.
The report focused on six pairs of curricula, where each pair included a lower-quality and higher-quality version. The authors’ findings included that:
Switching curricula is a productive way for schools to experience substantial pupil achievement gains for a small cost;
Higher-quality curricula in primary school maths can come at a relatively low cost, so choosing the best product is more important than finding a better price;
When it comes to primary maths curricula, cost does not always equal quality; and
More rigorous primary maths curricula can deliver a higher return on investment than other reforms.
The authors note that the research was limited by its reliance on a single study for analysis and the exclusion of digital or other online curricula, and that better product research and improved dissemination of evidence of effectiveness is required.
Source: The Hidden Value of Curriculum Reform: Do states and Districts Receive the Most Bang for their Curriculum Buck? (2015), Center for American Progress.