Leveraging CalCurriculum Tools & Resources To Lead A Strong Adoption Process

Dr. Shontoria Walker, Specialist, Partnerships with EdReports

July 26, 2023

Brief Guidance on How to Use the CalCurriculum Data Discovery Tool

This is the third and final blog in a series about early and off-list math instructional materials adoption in California. Check out our prior blogs, which describe what you need to know about regulations for adopting early and off-list, and why Aspire Public Schools decided to adopt early.  

As we prepare for another academic school year, I have been reflecting on my time as a former District Instructional Coach and Campus Instructional Specialist. Planning for the year during the summer months meant thinking about all the ways to ensure that each educator was prepared to meet students where they were and to push them towards their highest potential. Our aim was to support teachers in both pedagogy and curriculum implementation so that students were able to truly access quality content to help them learn and grow. 

Each academic year was different with new and recurrent challenges, but striving to support teachers and students never changed. When the time came for my district to select new instructional materials, I knew there were many components to consider before getting started so that we could be certain those materials truly served our students’ needs.  What were the things we desired most for our students and how were we already achieving that…or not? 

Through this materials adoption process, I learned that before we jump into the options, we should begin with a data discovery to pinpoint specific targets for the students that we serve. Standards-alignment is vital but there are many other components that matter for student learning. This isn’t simply my own observation – newly released NAEP scores and long-term trends show that students thrive when they have a curriculum and instruction that speaks to their experiences and allows them to see success as attainable. National scores are not the only data points that should tell us this—we need to ask questions such as: 

  • How does student achievement vary across demographic groups at my school? 
  • Who is learning? Who is not learning? 
  • Where were the gaps in the previous year compared to the historical data of our campus? 
  • What are the educators saying is working well, what is not, and what are we all observing? 

Step 1: Make observations. 

Start with the data you already have collected or that is readily available. With your adoption team, take the time to make observations individually using sticky notes for each observation.Your observations must be grounded in evidence. In this step, using sentence starters like “I see,”…, “I observe…,” or “I notice…” will be helpful for the team during the follow-up discussion. 

Step 2: Draw inferences based on your observations. 

Discuss and record group notes about the observations. One question to consider: what assumptions lie underneath the observations? Start to consider how the observations provide insight into not only the accomplishments but also the gaps that are being created. 

Step 3: Brainstorm implications and potential conclusions. 

Now that you have made observations about your data and inferences based on the evidence, it is time for you to conclude how the data may impact your plans. What are you seeking to change about the experience and outcomes for the students that you serve? 

Step 4: Consider next steps and outstanding needs. 

Based on this deep data discovery, consider your outstanding needs for teachers, students, families, administration, and others. Ask yourself: what is missing from my data picture? Would it be additional perspectives, or is there existing data that need further exploration? There may be more questions than answers at this point in your process and as a result, the data discovery may need to continue. Consider: What data would be critical to have or know before considering instructional materials?

Even if adopting new materials is not in your immediate next steps, a deep data discovery using the CalCurriculum Data Discovery Tool will allow you to make sound decisions by having a better understanding of your context to drive your current curriculum and instruction needs. With the newly released 2023 California Math framework now available, there is no time like the present to begin investigating your local context in anticipation of selecting high quality standards aligned materials. 

This is the final blog in our series about early and off-list math instructional materials adoption in California. If you are getting ready for or already leading an adoption process, check out our Adoption page for further guidance and resources.