RAND American Instructional Resources Survey (AIRS) Project

AIRS: American Instructional Resources Survey logo

Through the American Instructional Resources Survey (AIRS), RAND is investigating the use of instructional materials in K–12 English language arts, mathematics, and science classrooms across the United States. AIRS is intended to examine the factors related to use of standards-aligned curricula, and how curriculum use and supports for curriculum use are related to teaching. The AIRS project has been made possible through generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, and the Overdeck Family Foundation.

Why Does Curriculum Matter?

RAND reports over the past several years have documented that most of the instructional materials teachers report using in their classrooms—and ones that are required by school systems—are not well-aligned with standards recently adopted in most states. This matters because RAND reports (listed below) have connected teachers’ use of standards-aligned materials with higher teacher knowledge about their standards and more frequent use of standards-aligned instructional practices.

This and other research demonstrating positive effects of curricula in some settings have fueled state interest in use of materials as a policy lever for educational improvement, and many states have begun to encourage use of more standards-aligned curricula in classrooms. Nonetheless, we know very little about the mechanisms by which curricula may support improved teaching and learning and, thus, what advice to give to policymakers and educators about the best and most productive uses of curricula.

What Information Is AIRS Collecting and When?

Using the RAND American School Leader Panel and American Teacher Panel, AIRS is collecting data on U.S. teachers’ use of curricula and school curriculum requirements and school system supports for teachers’ curriculum use, along with questions about teachers’ knowledge about their standards and their instructional practices in the areas of English language arts, mathematics and science.

In spring 2019 and 2020, AIRS was fielded to:

  • A national sample of English language arts, mathematics, and science teachers who are part of the RAND American Teacher Panel, along with state-representative samples in an additional 12 states, including CA, DE, FL, LA, MA, MS, NM, NE, NY, RI, TN, and WI.
  • A national sample of U.S school leaders who are part of the RAND American School Leader Panel.

In spring 2020, AIRS included questions about how teachers were using instructional materials during school closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

AIRS will be fielded again in spring 2021.

What Findings Will Be Reported?

RAND has released three reports based on the data collected through AIRS in spring 2019:

Two additional research reports documenting key trends and findings from AIRS 2019 will be released in summer and fall 2020.

How Will AIRS Data Be Shared?

The AIRS spring 2019 data will be available in Summer 2020 through an online data exploration tool.

In fall 2020, a public-use version of AIRS data will become available on the AEP Data Portal. The public version of these data will not include teachers' states or the specific curricula they used, but it will include limited school demographic data and and some summary information about their curriculum use. In addition, restricted-access AIRS data files will be available that researchers can purchase. These restricted files will include information suppressed in the public version (e.g. teachers’ state and demographic information). Further information on how to apply for access to restricted data files will be available on the AEP Data Portal.