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Math Groups Criticize EdReports' Textbook Reviews in Open Letter

The Consumer Reports-style reviews of common-core instructional materials posted by EdReports.org are incomplete, contain errors, and misrepresent what's important in the common standards, claim two national groups of math educators

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and its sister group, the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, have written an open letter criticizing the methodology used by EdReports.org, which published its first round of curriculum reviews in March. Those reviews found that nearly all of the math series evaluated failed to meet criteria for alignment to the Common Core State Standards.

"Unfortunately, the EdReports methodology, including its evaluation tool and process, has produced reviews that fall short of providing useful and accurate information about many critical features of materials reviewed," the letter from NCTM and NCSM states. "As a result, the current ratings and reviews do not provide the types and quality of information needed to make informed choices about the extent to which particular materials support students' learning, or teachers' teaching, of [the common-core standards for mathematics]."

In particular, the groups argue that the alignment criteria used by EdReports.org excludes some critical common-core standards. In addition, the evaluation tool's use of "gateways," or thresholds that curricula needed to pass through to continue in the review process, prevented the majority of materials (76 out of 87) from being analyzed for "all the relevant features of instructional materials," including their use of the Standards for Mathematical Practice, they said.

The groups further claim the published reports have errors. "Some of these reflect a misunderstanding of CCSSM, others are mathematical errors, and some are related to an understanding of effective teaching and assessment," the letter says.

EdReports.org's executive director Eric Hirsch has responded that his organization "will continue to make refinements," including publishing more information about how the instructional materials were scored.

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