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.

Recent Findings

  • Principal answers questions during orientation, photo by SDI Productions/Adobe Stock

    School Leaders' Role in Selecting Instructional Materials

    School leaders' perceptions of instructional materials influence their decisions about how to support teachers' material use. What does the selection process for instructional materials look like? And what role—if any—do school leaders play?

More About the AIRS Project

AIRS grew out of recent projects from RAND documenting 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 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 do not know enough about how state reform efforts are changing what curriculum materials teachers use and what factors support teachers’ use of curriculum.

To address gaps in what we know about curriculum use, AIRS is collecting data via the RAND American School Leader Panel and American Teacher Panel on topics that include:

  • Curriculum materials regularly used by K–12 public school teachers for English language arts, mathematics and science instruction, as well as district curriculum requirements
  • How curriculum use is supported in U.S. schools
  • Coherence among standards, curriculum, professional development and other elements of K–12 instructional systems
  • Teachers’ knowledge of their standards and their ELA, math, and science instructional practices.
  • A national sample of U.S school leaders who are part of the RAND American School Leader Panel.

AIRS is fielded to school leaders and teachers in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, and Spring 2021.

Explore AIRS Data

We invite you to explore the AIRS 2019 data in Bento, a free online data visualization tool. Bento allows you to filter and segment survey results by school characteristics or educator background, compare data to state and national averages, and export visualizations for reports. Learn more and get access to Bento here.

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.

Curriculum Matters

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 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.