CEPR Faculty Director Thomas J. Kane proposes an evaluation of textbooks and other instructional materials in the following Brookings Institution report.
They say never judge a book by its cover. We need to start judging textbooks and other instructional materials using student achievement instead.
In February and March of last year, as teachers were preparing for the first administration of the end-of-year assessments from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC), the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard surveyed a representative sample of 1,500 teachers and 142 principals across five states. Our report focused on the instructional changes teachers were making and the effectiveness of the training and support they were receiving. However, we also asked about the textbooks they were using.
We matched each teacher to the students they were teaching and assembled data on students’ demographic characteristics, performance on prior state tests, and the averages of such characteristics for the peers in their classroom. We also estimated each teacher’s impact on student performance in the prior school year (2013-14) to use as a control. (We wanted to account for the fact that more effective teachers may choose to use particular textbooks.) After controlling for the measures of student, peer, and teacher influences above, we estimated the variance in student outcomes on the new assessments associated with the textbook used.