Aurora Public Schools will add a rigorous process of textbook selection to its arsenal of tools to boost student achievement.
The district will partner with EdVantage Reports, a Denver-based innovator in textbook evaluation, to review elementary, middle, and high school social studies materials. Among the subjects to be evaluated are geography, United States history, world history, and US government.
“Our partnership with EdVantage Reports will ensure that we have best information available as we make our textbook purchases,” said Debbie Backus, APS Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. “We will spend $1.5 million on textbooks this year, and we want to make sure that this money is properly invested in our students.”
Teams of Aurora social studies teachers have been working all year to completely revise the district’s social studies curriculum, and to identify specific learning goals that students should achieve at every grade level. The next step will be to choose the textbooks and other teaching materials that will support both student learning and instructional excellence.
So for three weeks this summer, Aurora teachers will team with colleagues from other Colorado districts to carefully evaluate social studies textbooks and other supplemental materials. The process will combine intense and focused and training on the state and national content standards, as well as research-based instructional best practices.
“Most school districts do not spend adequate time to consider the ways in which textbooks can either support or conflict with instructional goals,” explained Mark A. Montgomery, President and CEO of EdVantage Reports. “Aurora’s leadership in this area reflects the district’s dedication to do whatever it takes to support quality instruction.”
At the end of the evaluation process, teachers and administrators will receive detailed reports of the strengths and weaknesses of scores of textbooks. Aurora educators will then consider these reports as they make their final selections.
“Not only is this process helpful in identifying the best books, but it is an incredible opportunity for teachers to focus on the standards and to examine how different texts are constructed,” commented Kelly Brady, a Gateway High School teacher who worked with EdVantage Reports last summer. “I learned a great deal working with EdVantage, and I’m glad my district has decided to include this process in selecting our texts."