Districts report ‘major problems’ finding Common Core resources

Such findings have given rise to a nonprofit website funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,, which reviews materials for alignment and quality.

Schmidt and others said publishers appear to have been slow to fully invest in Common Core, perhaps while waiting to see whether the standards would last, especially given the political debate that has led some states to drop them.

“I’m sure there were publishers who did say, `Let’s think about this,”‘ said Jay Diskey, executive director of the PreK-12 division of the Association of American Publishers, “but others went quickly into the Common Core transition,” developing instructional material off of the grade-by-grade standards.

“Frankly, the prospect of the entire nation, schools in all 50 states, swapping out reading and math for new Common Core materials represented the largest market opportunity ever in United States K-12 education publishing,” Diskey said. “It hasn’t fully materialized yet, simply because of some of the political issues and the still-lingering effects of the recession in some of these school districts.”

In the meantime, the so-called OER movement–short for open educational resources–continues to take hold, with anyone from teachers to states making curriculum available for free or for sale online.

The biggest such effort is the EngageNY website created by that state’s Department of Education with federal funding. The free site includes complete K-12 English Language Arts and math curriculums, including downloadable lessons that can be printed out.

State data showed more than 20 million downloads of material from the site as of early June, with a third of downloads initiated from outside New York as districts like Berkeley, California, adopt it.

“That, to me, is a pretty good proof point that no matter where you are, teachers and school districts are just not that happy with the quality of material that’s available to them through traditional commercial publishing routes,” said Robert Pondiscio, a senior fellow at the Fordham Institute.

AFT’s teacher-fed “Share My Lesson” site has attracted 750,000 teachers and has seen more than 9 million downloads of materials since launching in 2012, Weingarten said.

Buffalo-area teacher Karen Jones’ curriculum offerings on the paid website Teachers Pay Teachers now bring in more income than her teaching job.

“Some of the popularity of sites like Teachers Pay Teachers is the lack of resources that teachers had to work with,” Jones said. “We were expected to teach these standards, but we weren’t really given the tools to teach them.”

Copyright 2015 and distributed by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Laura Ascione
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