Only one-third of school districts said they are aware of both the term “open educational resources” (OER) and its licensing, according to a report from the Babson Survey Research Group.

The report, funded by a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, found more encouraging news when it comes to OER adoption–two-thirds of participating districts are aware of at least one open full-time course curriculum alternative, and more than one-third have actively considered at least one.

What We Teach: K-12 School District Curriculum Adoption Process examines the degree to which K-12 districts are aware of and have adopted OER, as well as the process districts use to select and adopt full-course curricula materials.

Open licensed full-course curricula materials have been adopted by 16 percent of all districts.

(Next page: Which districts show a higher OER adoption?)

OER adoption also appears higher in districts with low-income students. Districts with a high proportion of students in poverty have adopted open licensed full-course curricula materials at more than twice the rate of districts with low rates of child poverty (22 percent as compared to 10 percent).

Seventy-seven percent of K-12 districts have made at least one full-course curricula adoption decision over the past three years, with the need to meet changing standards driving most of these decisions, according to the survey.

Most districts make an adoption decision for Mathematics (59 percent), followed by English Language Arts (44 percent), Science (29 percent), and History and Social Studies (19 percent).

The overwhelming reason districts cite as the reason to engage in an adoption decision is a need to select new material to meet changing standards.

Teachers have decision-making power in the adoption process for 94 percent of districts, followed by district-level administrators (75 percent), and principals (73 percent).

Districts cited comprehensive content, working with existing technology, and cost as “very important” or “critical” in their adoption decision.

Cost is far more important among districts with high rates of children in poverty (52 percent say it is “critical”) than those with low rates of child poverty (26 percent say it is “critical”).

Districts adopt material from more than a dozen sources, but the top three publishers (McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) command the market.

Laura Ascione
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura