Disturbing revelations about education publishing

03/30/2013  |  SUZANNE KLEIN
common core

Creators of the Common Core State Standards recommend a “publishers’ criteria” designed as a guide for curriculum developers and publishers to ensure that instructional material and textbooks meet the Common Core requirements. But are publishers actually following these recommendations when updating their instructional materials to the Common Core?

Unfortunately no, not all publishers are aligning their materials appropriately. Educators need to be wary of the sticker slapping occurring in the education publishing industry as it relates to the Common Core. Educational publishers are creating shiny new text book covers claiming to be 100 percent aligned to the Common Core, but not all of them are completely changing the instructional material inside to meet the new standards.

Annie Kheegan, a longtime textbook writer and editor, writes a scathing indictment of the field she proudly served for over 20 years in her blog post, “Afraid of Your Child’s Math Textbook? You Should Be.” The blog is incredibly discouraging and provides insight into the education publishing industry.

Especially disheartening are the examples Kheegan describes of senior executives unwilling to correct serious errors or deliver on their Common Core claims.

Kheegan quotes a senior executive’s response to her concern that a project did not meet its Common Core specs, “It doesn’t matter if there aren’t enough correlations; our marketing materials say only that we ‘expose’ students to the Common Core.”

These kinds of reports are also voiced by another industry insider, Beverlee Jobrack, a 25 year veteran of educational publishing who retired in 2007 as editorial director for one of the largest companies in the business.

According to Jobrack, when it comes to the Common Core, “Here’s what’s happening right now in textbook land ... They’re not changing anything in the curriculum. They are simply relabeling.”

Jobrack says in her blog, “Solving the Textbook-Common Core Conundrum,” “In the interest of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, textbook publishers, who have invested tens of millions of dollars in their textbook series, are doing the minimum necessary to address the new standards.”

When you are shopping for a writing program that adheres to the Common Core, make sure you are looking at what percentage of text types are being utilized in the lessons. The publishers’ criteria for elementary Common Core writing suggests teachers focus 30 percent of their time on opinion writing, 35 percent of their time on informative/explanatory writing, and 35 percent of their time on narrative text types.

Below are Common Core Word Banks that are available for K-5 educators interested in having a reference to the important words, topics, and phrases used in the Common Core Standards for writing.

These word banks show consistency that prove the Common Cores have a spiraling effect across all K-5 grade levels. For example, informative/explanatory lessons taught in kindergarten continue up through the fifth grade and are continually built upon in each grade level. WriteSteps has met these text types with careful analysis and is following the publishers’ criteria for elementary writing in 100 percent of its lesson plans.

The educational publishing industry has been criticized since the Common Core State Standards have been released, but there are wonderful products and services on the market today that do match up with the Common Core State Standards and can help schools adjust their curriculum to meet the standards. Anyone can repackage materials and add a sticker that says “Common Core Aligned” on shiny new materials. The important thing is for educators to pay attention to which instructional materials are true to the Common Core and which materials are instances of sticker slapping.

Suzanne Klein is founder and CEO of Writesteps. For more information visit www.www.writesteps.com.
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