District Officials Use Data for New Curriculum Resource Strategy
Mar 3, 2015
Using the data and insights gathered by Curriculum Insight, district administrators at Coeur d’Alene School District were able to convince their school board to approve the purchase of new curriculum resources for K–12 math. Curriculum Insight’s data will now be used to convince community members to vote in favor of the levy allowing the purchases. If approved, this will be the first curriculum purchases made by the district since 2008 and create a strong step toward achieving a new set of strategic goals. Coeur d’Alene School District now hopes to reuse Curriculum Insight to gather teacher feedback and constantly assess their curriculum resources to ensure standards and students’ needs are being met.
Coeur d’Alene’s Curriculum Problem
Coeur d’Alene (CDA) School District in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is the sixth largest school district in the state. It is home to 10,333 students across 10 elementary schools, three middle schools, and three high schools. The district recently adopted a set of strategic goals that included the following:
- “Equip educators with the tools to innovate through the use of creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.”
- “Ensure that teachers are equipped with and effectively trained in strategies for individual instruction.”
District administrators believed that the CDA’s teachers did not have access to the resources they needed to achieve these goals. However, they needed evidence to prove this and make the case for new purchases.
Curriculum Insight’s Findings Surprised Administrators
According to SIMBA, “On a per student basis, the U.S. average spending on instructional materials was $227 for the 2011–2012 school year, down 6.6% from the prior year, and reaching its lowest level since the 2003–2004 school year. Contributing to the decline was the end of stimulus funding and challenging state and local budget conditions.” Coeur d’Alene’s curriculum purchases are on par with national trends. Despite a recommendation from the state of Idaho that curriculum resources be replaced every 6 years, Coeur d’Alene has been on a purchasing cycle that is closer to every 10–15 years. Coeur d’Alene had not purchased any new resources since 2008 due to a lack of funds caused by the economic downturn and the fact that the state of Idaho does not contribute funds to school districts to purchase curriculum resources.
District administrators believed that for teachers to achieve the district’s strategic goals, they would need access to a refreshed library of resources, but they also needed to make every dollar count. To do this effectively, administrators needed to
- “Know which resources teachers liked and used and which resources they did not”
- “Have access to data that would help them make a clear case to the school board for funding allocations”
Coeur d’Alene used Curriculum Insight to survey teachers about their usage of all curriculum materials in the district’s library. In Curriculum Insight’s “anonymous environment people were more open to share their opinions of their curriculum resources,” says Coeur d’Alene’s Director of Curriculum and Assessment, Mike Nelson. Despite having a frequent presence in classrooms, Coeur d’Alene’s administrators were surprised at many of the things they learned.
- “Teachers were not using resources as expected, disproving administrators’ assumptions that teachers were using materials with fidelity.
- “Teachers were not expressing their frustrations because they were aware of the state and district funding issues.
- “Many resources were not meeting the needs of the state standards and teachers were using them very infrequently.
How the Data was Used
Using the data and findings gathered by Curriculum Insight, Coeur d’Alene’s district administrators were able to persuade the school board to approve the purchase of K–12 math resources and put out a levy for it. The vote will be held on March 10th. Officials will use the Curriculum Insight data to explain the need for new resources.
In an effort to generate support and to fulfill another strategic goal of engaging families and the community, preliminary findings from the Curriculum Insight data have already been shared with parents and more detailed results will be shared in the levy prep materials leading up to the vote. In the past few years, many parents had felt that their children were bringing home fewer textbooks and receiving smaller amounts of homework. The Curriculum Insight data seemed to endorse their suspicions by showing that teachers were using fewer curriculum resources than expected.
Due to the level of insight they gained, Coeur d’Alene hopes to reuse Curriculum Insight every year to gather teacher feedback and constantly assess their curriculum resources to ensure standards and students’ needs are being met. They also hope to use that data to shorten their curriculum purchasing cycle, if funding allows. According to Mike Nelson, Curriculum Insight gave Coeur d’Alene the data to say, “Here are the problems; here are the possible solutions; here’s how Coeur d’Alene is going to better serve our kids for many years to come.”
Curriculum Insight Overview
Curriculum Insight is a custom online survey providing reports for administrators to analyze teacher curriculum usage and teacher feedback. The anonymous survey gives teachers the opportunity to inform district administrators if they use the products purchased by the district and what they think of them. Teachers also have the opportunity to enter in resources they find on their own. District administrators use the data to improve implementation, allocate the curriculum budget, and get the best resources for their students.