Learning by the Book is the first multi-state effort to measure textbook efficacy since the implementation of the Common Core, which saw no difference in the average fourth- and fifth-grade math achievement gains of schools using different elementary math textbooks. At current levels of curriculum usage and professional development, textbook choice alone does not seem to improve student achievement.
To estimate school-level differences in student achievement growth, the research team—led by Thomas J. Kane (Harvard University) and David Blazar (University of Maryland)—used data on student achievement and math textbook adoptions in fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms in six states (California, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Washington) from three school years (2014–15 through 2016–17). They also surveyed teachers on their use of textbooks and supplemental materials, as well as the availability and use of professional development related to math instruction and curriculum. The study sample included almost 6,000 schools and over 1,200 teachers across the six states.