Kids Deserve to Learn from the Best Materials

Voices | November 3, 2016

We caught up with Jana Bryant, Math Instructional Coach with Daviess County Public Schools in Kentucky. Jana shares how rigorous college and career-ready standards can improve and deepen student learning, and in order to reach these standards, how much what is taught in the classroom matters. She also shares more about her experience as an EdReports.org reviewer.

Why do quality instructional materials matter for teachers and kids?

Teachers and students deserve resources that are up-to-date with the technology that is present in their homes and schools.  

Kids deserve to learn from the best materials. Teachers should be able to spend the majority of their time engaging with and offering feedback to their students, and refining their own instruction. Many teachers spend too much time searching for and creating their own standards-aligned resources. Teachers use instructional materials as a crucial guide to indicate if they are holding students and themselves to the correct level of expectations intended by the standards.

How does this work translate into districts and classrooms?

In the past, teachers and districts had to rely on publishers for information about instructional materials.  Now teachers, principals, and district superintendents all have access to this information which offers free independent reviews.  With limited budgets, resources, and time it’s very difficult for schools to properly vet every material that is available.  Now, there is a free, teacher-sourced resource.

EdReports’ reviews inform leaders and decision-making bodies to make informed pilot and purchasing decisions. The reports’ alignment evidence saves districts hundreds of hours of review time and leverages educators’ limited time and resources. Teachers use report evidence to identify where their materials are aligned and where they need to supplement to best support student learning. Ultimately, this helps teachers use well-guided instruction to more deeply engage with students.

What has your experience been with EdReports as a content reviewer?

All of the reviews are free on EdReports.org and reflect an educator-led process, educator-built tool, and transparency between the organization and publishers. As a reviewer, I can have conversations with a network of expert educators and apply new skills and knowledge in my local context as an instructional coach.

I work in a review team comprised of four, including a lead reviewer, and with a calibrator who works across several review teams. My team brings a diverse set of educators with different roles and grade and course-level expertise.

We each examine a series of HS math materials independently to gather evidence based on the review tool and evidence guides. Then, we meet virtually at least weekly to share evidence, discuss ratings with teammates, and write the reports.

The impact is two-pronged: I have the constant opportunity to hone my own professional knowledge of the standards; and the weekly discussions grounded in standards alignment and deep examination for evidence challenges me and my colleagues to be reflective on what we should expect resources to provide for teachers and for students. I now have other educators to call on with questions and ideas. I’m thrilled to be a part of the EdReports network, and honored to be part of an organization that is truly for and by educators.