This blog has recently gained many new readers. Because of that, I thought it might be worth sharing a “A Look Back” where I periodically share my favorite from the past twelve years. You can also see all of my choices for “Best” posts here.
This post appeared earlier this year.
I have very seldom found a textbook that was decent, much less good, and I suspect that many other teachers have had similar experiences (which may be the reason behind the popularity of The Best Resources For Adapting Your Textbook So It Doesn’t Bore Students To Death).
So, I wasn’t surprised this week when a big Gates Foundation-funded study found that textbooks didn’t make a difference in student learning. I also wasn’t surprised that Gates wasn’t wasn’t going to let these findings dissuade them from throwing money at making better ones – they don’t have a history of learning from their mistakes until long after they’ve spent many millions on them (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Role Of Private Foundations In Education Policy).
I’ll share links to the new study and articles about it in a moment. However, the key point all this seems to make to me is that – apart from the huge outside-of-school factors that need to be changed (see The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher (& Outside Factors) Have On Student Achievement) – funders and all the rest of us should be focused on enhancing the instructional strategies we teachers use in the classroom.
Ted Appel wrote about this very topic last month here in a guest post that was later republished in The Washington Post, GUEST POST: WHAT DOES TOM BRADY HAVE IN COMMON WITH A GREAT TEACHER?
However, that doesn’t fit into the technocratic vision of a good number of funders and others in “school reform” efforts, so we’ll just have to witness more of their failed attempts.
You can read the new Gates study here.
Here are two articles about it:
The Gates Foundation is hoping better curriculum will boost student learning. A new study says, not so fast is from Chalkbeat.
Textbooks Alone Don’t Boost Test Scores, Study Says is from Ed Week.