An Online System for the Collection of Textbook Adoption Data

Morgan Polikoff, University of Southern California

Textbooks are an important influence on teachers’ instruction and students’ learning. While textbooks are nearly ubiquitous in U.S. classrooms, little data is kept on which schools and districts adopt which textbooks, and to what effect. The lack of systematic textbook adoption data is especially troubling given that districts and schools are making important decisions about curriculum materials in light of new college and career readiness standards. This project, funded as part of an effort to improve the measurement of indicators of successful K-12 education, will gather and make publicly available the largest-ever database of mathematics and science textbook adoption data and analyze the impact of textbooks on student achievement in the five largest U.S. states. The goal of the work is to create an online system that could be sustained inexpensively and used to maintain and make publicly available longitudinal data on textbook adoptions moving forward.

The work plan involves four phases. Phase 1 will build a web-based data collection tool and assemble a list of school district contacts for the target states. Phase 2 will gather textbook adoption data in mathematics and science from the districts through phone and email contacts. Phase 3 will analyze textbook adoption patterns and effects. Phase 4 will update the adoption data in the second year and build plans to sustain and expand the tool. The proposed adoption data could have several transformative uses. Researchers could use the data to study patterns in adoption and conduct ‘epidemiological studies’ of curriculum effectiveness. District personnel could use the data to, to identify other districts adopting their same curricular materials for purposes of collaboration and instructional improvement.

See NSF award information.

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