Disappearing Textbooks

Back to May 2015 Ed Reporter

Disappearing Textbooks

Textbooks aligned to the Common Core standards were unavailable for states and localities to use when the hurried roll out of new standards began, so many school districts use free curriculum they download from the internet.

printerIn order to prepare Common Core study materials and worksheets for students, the Berkeley, California school copy center sometimes operates seven days a week, even beginning as early as 4 a.m. The district is not saving money by using a “free” math curriculum downloadable from the internet because the “printing-intensive” method is actually more expensive than it would be to provide students with textbooks.

A math coach for the Berkeley School District says she spent “half her time last school year preparing downloaded documents for printing.”

Finding no textbooks aligned to Common Core, New York state spent “$28 million of its federal Race to the Top grant to develop the curriculums for math and English” that they now offer free online. An estimated 30 states serving about 250,000 students, are using these EngageNY New York Core Knowledge elementary school English curriculum.

Another New York online curriculum called Expeditionary Learning “is being used in at least 447 districts in 36 states.”

Critics Say

Some districts have abandoned the EngageNY Eureka Math curriculum after parents and educators criticized it “for uneven quality, for presenting too much material to be covered in a year,” and for being unnecessarily complicated, making it hard for parents to assist students to complete their homework.

Teachers have complained that EngageNY English plans that provide a script for teachers allow them “no leeway” to instruct as they wish in the classroom.

Parents who are used to monitoring textbooks to see exactly what their children are being taught are suspicious of online materials printed and studied only at school. Parents often don’t have the opportunity to review the curriculum being taught to their students.

Although Common Core has meant more use of online curriculum, New York still spent “more than $50 million last year on English and math textbooks for kindergarten through eighth grade.”
(HechingerReport.org, 3-31-15)