Though it has taken years, the current market for HQIM is strong; and now it presents states, districts, and educators with a different set of challenges: so many options. How do you select the best materials to meet your needs and context, and how do you leverage these materials to foster student-centered learning?
If we know what our students need, as well as the strengths and limitations of our current materials, then we can create a prioritized plan for all stakeholders to use to move forward. Conducting an initial review of existing materials will help you determine the alignment of your materials to student needs and the district's vision for strong instruction. Four key domains to consider include:
- Gateway Criteria Do your materials align with the state standards at the level of rigor defined by the standard? For example, in the ELA and social studies curriculum, you should assess whether texts are both quantitatively and qualitatively complex.
- Horizontal Alignment Do your materials give all students extensive work with grade-level problems through practice, collaboration, summative, and formative assessments?
- Instructional Supports Do your materials provide appropriate research-based strategies and scaffolding that will allow all students to productively struggle, yet directly experience the complexity of the task?
- Vertical Alignment Are your materials aligned across grades, and do tasks across grade levels develop in complexity?
In addition to these four domains, additional domains can and should be considered based on local context. For example, some districts will want an explicit focus on representation across cultures, identities, experiences and questions around this focus can be asked when assessing current materials or selecting new materials. It is also critically important to honor teacher expertise (around content and their students) and balance their autonomy with HQIM.
For example, educators in one county in Duval, Florida recognized that incorporating local history into the curriculum for their African American studies would not only help students better understand the historical significance of their local community, but that it would pave the way for increased student engagement and more positive learning outcomes.
The issue was finding relevant, Florida-focused materials, that weren’t biased or promoting a specific point of view, and then organizing them to align with the existing course and curriculum. The district reached out to a reputable K-12 content creator, XanEdu, to provide supplemental materials that would challenge students, fulfill the state’s requirements, and use the course’s existing units of study. Together they created a personalized learning tool: a collection of primary and secondary sources with a Florida-specific, local focus, aligned directly with the existing units.
Find additional information on culturally responsive supplemental materials in these resources:
- New York State's Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework, specifically the "Inclusive Curriculum and Assessment" competency as it highlights ensuring "Current events incorporated into instruction; Students as co-designers of curriculum; Resources written and developed by racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives; Instructional strategies that adapt to diverse learning styles."
- HILL framework from Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, centering identity, knowledge, criticality and engagement within materials and tasks.
What are key outcomes of this overarching process for selecting HQIM?
- Increased buy-in from teachers
- Saved money over time
- Saved time for teachers in finding and creating materials
- Improved student outcomes
- Set a ground floor for rigor and standards-alignment
- Added additional lever for equity–doesn't leave student experience up to chance
- Ensured materials are aligned to key priorities