Case Study

Lessons from Implementing Middle School Math Instructional Materials: California Case Studies

November 30, 2023

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While researchers and experts have rigorously investigated and reviewed instructional materials over the last decade, not enough attention has focused on the factors that affect their implementation. Bellwether’s recent “Rounding Up” report concluded similarly about the curriculum effectiveness field: they explain that practitioners “need to know which aspects of the program are relevant to their students and are viable to implement in their contexts.”  This reflection is significant for our field of work, as we work to dramatically accelerate math results. 

Through a series of case studies, UnboundEd, on behalf of CalCurriculum, set out to study and share findings on enabling conditions for successful math instructional materials implementation, and the degree to which select programs have been feasible to implement across a variety of district and charter profiles. These case studies describe the implementation experiences of four districts and charter networks across the state and demonstrate that the feasibility of implementing instructional materials is highly contextual.

What we have learned from educators and leaders across the state has been powerful. In light of the release of the 2023 California Mathematics Framework, many LEAs may be interested in adopting instructional materials that emphasize inquiry-based learning. These case studies identified important advice to keep in mind when planning to adopt and implement a set of materials that aim to shift educators’ pedagogical practices.

We hope these case studies, coupled with the Hexagon Discussion & Analysis Tool, inform and strengthen districts’ and charter systems’ instructional materials adoption and implementation plans moving forward in order to better support California educators and their students.

The Hexagon Discussion & Analysis Tool was adapted from: Metz, A. & Louison, L. (2019) The Hexagon Tool: Exploring Context. Chapel Hill, NC: National Implementation Research Network, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Based on Kiser, Zabel, Zachik, & Smith (2007) and Blase, Kiser & Van Dyke (2013).