November 23, 2020

New Report/Case Study from Rand: “Use of Open Educational Resources in an Era of Common Standards”

The following report/case study was published today by the Rand Corporation. The full text is
available (no charge) and linked below.

Title

Use of Open Educational Resources in an Era of Common Standards: A Case Study on the Use of EngageNY

Summary

2017-03-27_17-47-35The purpose of this report is to better understand the uses of EngageNY in order to shed light on the channels through which open educational resources (OER) could better support teachers and the implementation of state standards. In this report, we use data from Google Analytics, surveys, and interviews with teachers from the RAND Corporation’s American Teacher Panel to provide evidence about who is using EngageNY, reasons for its use, and the extent to which it is supporting teachers to address standards for mathematics and English language arts (ELA). EngageNY represents one of the first efforts to create coherent, standards-aligned OER curriculum materials. Early evidence suggests that EngageNY is among the most commonly used curriculum materials for mathematics and ELA in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Data from the American Teacher Panel suggests that high use of EngageNY curriculum materials across the United States was at least partly driven by educators’ desire to help students meet state standards and prepare for assessments that are aligned with state standards. In particular, teachers in states that adopted Common Core or similar standards were 65 percent more likely to use EngageNY than those in non–Common Core states. The survey data also suggest that school district requirements and recommendations may be a prime reason why teachers used EngageNY.

Our survey data suggest that EngageNY gives students more opportunities to engage in some standards-aligned practices compared with other instructional materials. Our research has implications for states, districts, and online providers of standards-aligned instructional materials.

Findings

  • EngageNY was heavily used in New York state during the period of our analysis, but materials were accessed across the country.
  • Teachers’ use of EngageNY was particularly high in states that have adopted Common Core or similar standards.
  • EngageNY mathematics materials were used at three times the rate of ELA materials across the country. However, ELA teachers may have used EngageNY more comprehensively than mathematics teachers.

High use of EngageNY was at least partly driven by educators’ desire to help students meet state standards.

  • Between 80 and 90 percent of teachers indicated that their district either required or recommended its use.
  • State standards and district assessments influenced ELA teachers’ use of EngageNY more than their use of other materials.
  • While the open nature of EngageNY may encourage use, teachers did not cite “availability” more often as an influence for their use compared with other materials.

EngageNY gives students more opportunities to engage in standards-aligned practices compared with other materials.

  • Mathematics teachers were more likely to indicate that EngageNY provided their students with opportunities to explain and justify their work and address goals with equal time and intensity compared with their other main instructional materials.
  • ELA teachers were more likely to indicate that EngageNY provided their students with opportunities to read nonfiction texts of sufficient complexity and connect literacy instruction to other content, among other standards-aligned practices.

Recommendations

  • Given that state standards and districts appear to be such a large driver of the use of EngageNY, open educational resource (OER) providers — and any providers of online instructional materials — should ensure that their materials are clearly aligned with standards and provide evidence in that regard. In particular, if online materials are provided in progressions that are well-aligned with state standards progressions, teachers may be more apt to use those materials on an ongoing basis for their instruction, and districts could be more apt to recommend and require use of those materials.
  • Providers may consider offering additional tools that support implementation of OER across schools and districts. If adoption of online curriculum materials is district-wide, rather than represented by individual teachers, providers have an opportunity to leverage the curriculum implementation support that districts provide to teachers and the support teachers can provide to one another in professional learning networks.
  • States, districts, and others supporting teachers’ work also have an important role in supporting use of OER. To get high-quality OER into the hands of teachers, rigorous vetting and review of curricula to examine alignment with standards and assessments could be performed by researchers, states, and other organizations. States, districts, and schools may also consider how to integrate the content of recommended curricula into professional learning opportunities on a regular basis and, perhaps more importantly, create and grow networks of expert users who can support each other through online and in-person professional learning communities.

Direct to Download Full Text Report (67 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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