There is a crisis in U.S. schools: Teachers, the most important ingredient in a child’s learning,1 are demoralized. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in six K-12 teachers reported that they were likely to leave the profession. During the pandemic, this number increased to one in four.2 There are many avenues to better support and nurture a critical mass of motivated educators who can spend their time effectively and efficiently doing what has a meaningful impact on our children’s educational progress.
Tyton Partners, with support from the Walton Family Foundation, recently analyzed the use and importance of one key ingredient: instructional resources, which have a significant impact on teachers’ experience and success in the classroom. The Supplier Benchmarking Toolkit (SBT) builds on this analysis and the findings presented in the Improving Instructional Resources to Enhance the Teacher Experience report, published by Tyton Partners in May 2022. This document is a tool for providers of core and supplemental curriculum materials to leverage as they continue to improve their products and services to better meet the needs of teachers and, ultimately, improve student outcomes.
Using this tool, developers and suppliers can benchmark their product features and associated services against what teachers and administrators say they need most. The SBT also guides suppliers on how to review their internal company processes, including methods for identifying and developing the most-wanted product features. It can also be used by purchasers of instructional resources to be better informed about what to look for when evaluating resources.
Our toolkit does not have to be used in its entirety – picking and choosing are encouraged. Instructional resources, the pedagogies they deploy, and the organizations developing them vary widely. Some organizations act as “authors” and focus on developing content aligned to research on what drives student learning outcomes, while others specialize in disseminating that content through platforms.
Quite deliberately, the approach below focuses on the teacher experience with curriculum resources rather than their efficacy for learners. While there is a clear link between curriculum resources and student outcomes, there already is a rich body of work on this topic, so this toolkit seeks to complement it. Consequently, consider this toolkit within the context of each product, its developers, and its target audience – and alongside other research.
The SBT was informed by:
- Two large-scale national surveys – completed by a diverse and representative set of 1,600 teachers and 700 administrators – to assess teacher needs, which product features and services teachers value most, and what each feature must entail to adequately meet teachers’ needs
- 40 interviews with K-12 teachers and administrators to further develop a perspective on topics covered in the surveys
- 15 interviews with K-12 instructional material suppliers and supporting organizations to better understand product development processes, methods for understanding the needs of end-users, and where suppliers would benefit most from an enhanced understanding of the teacher perspective
These insights informed the evaluation categories, as well as the rubric for each product feature and internal process.
1 RAND Teachers Matter: Understanding Teachers’ Impact on Student Achievement, 2019
2 RAND Job-Related Stress Threatens the Teacher Supply, 2021