Lessons from the Pandemic
Instructional Materials Have Greater Impact When They Incorporate Caregivers into Learning
A new report finds that high-quality instructional materials that
incorporate technology, that are culturally relevant and that bring
caregivers into student learning helped remote students meet or even
exceed expectations during school shutdowns.
The report, from the Center
for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL) at Columbia University,
used survey data from nine school districts and charter school
"We learned through virtual schooling that educators' use of
high-quality, culturally responsive instructional materials that are
enabled by technology and educative for families can be a game
changer," said Elizabeth Chu, executive director of CPRL, in a
prepared statement. "Instead of families being 'passive
recipients' of instruction, it's time for a new model in education
that brings families fully into the instructional process by using
high-quality instructional materials to help foster close
coordination and collaboration between students, families and
CPRL is recommending that institutions expand the definition of
"high-quality instructional materials" to incorporate the
three added factors that had a demonstrable impact on student
achievement. According to CPRL: "Researchers from CPRL found
that high-quality instructional materials are strongest and most
impactful when dimensions of "high-quality" are expanded
from being aligned to standards to also include being 1) tech
enabled, 2) culturally responsive and sustaining, and 3) designed to
enhance families' ability to guide student learning and instruction.
Hartford Public Schools was one of the participants in the study,
which included 290 interviews. Said Director of Mathematics Mario
Carullo, "In Hartford, we've learned how important it is for our
students, the majority of whom are students of color and/or from
families that are economically disadvantaged, to have access to
high-quality instructional materials on a daily basis to foster
strong academic partnerships with families."
Detroit Public Schools Community District was another study site.
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said: "The adoption and
implementation of high-quality curriculum materials was an essential
key to turning around the district and ensuring our students could
reach their academic potential. The pandemic was not an excuse not to
continue to ensure our students received access to these materials.
Our district team worked hard to ensure all of those materials were
fully accessible online when the vast majority of students were
learning online. This was a commitment to equity for our students."
report is freely available here.
About the Author
David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.
He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).