Putting Students First

Voices | September 7, 2016

Guest blog by Maya Lars, National Board Certified Teacher and reading specialist, Prince George’s County (MD) Public Schools

I’m a reading specialist with Prince George’s County Public Schools, and I’ve served on several county review committees. I hate to say that in my early career, I was a part of some committees that started and ended by looking at the materials to decide if they were “pretty” and/or contained lots of “pieces.” We all wanted to do right by our students and find the best materials; however, we didn’t always have the time or expertise to dive in and assess each option for critical features like the quality and complexity of texts or how well the materials support students to engage with texts deeply.

What I love about the EdReports.org process is that it prioritizes the factors that are most important for supporting students. Then all of this data about the materials become readily available to support teams as they make the right decisions for their communities.  

Because of the grain size offered in grade-level reports, each provides a ton of information and reveals how the materials really measure up against the standards. As a reviewer, I kept thinking: what is the data and the evidence I would need to best use this report to support my students. My review team colleagues all approached the review process this way in order to ensure that the reports could help educators.

EdReports is really shedding light on the importance of choosing the “right stuff” to place in front of students to ensure that they are prepared for college and careers. For example, I and other educators can now more clearly see how materials demonstrate coherence across the grades, instead of information being siloed in grade-level teams.

I encourage you to see for yourself how this evidence can help. You can:

  • Use EdReports.org to examine how your materials measure up and support students.
  • Read the reports’ evidence to determine if and when you need to find supplements. I recommend that you start with understanding the gateways and the indicators within the review tool. It will help you to understand how the reviewers were looking for and evaluating evidence of alignment and usability.  
  • Use the reviews on EdReports.org as part of your local adoption process. Reading the reports in a PLC can help you to identify which materials you’d like to examine more closely and what additional characteristics you’d like to see.