Jan 31, 2022
Coherence among instructional components is key to changing teachers' practices in standards-based reforms. The authors set out to understand how districts and schools are activating various policy levers to drive instructional coherence and student learning in English language arts. This report uses survey data to explore the coherence of school-level instructional systems in Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
Coherence among components of an instructional system is key to changing teachers' instructional practices in standards-based reforms. Coherence involves working across traditional silos—or system components (e.g., curriculum, professional learning, assessment)—to integrate components to avoid fragmentation of experiences for educators and students. The authors set out to understand how districts and schools are activating various policy levers (i.e., instructional components) to drive instructional coherence and student learning in English language arts (ELA) in the Common Core era.
The authors investigate the coherence of teachers' instructional systems using survey data from state-representative samples of teachers and smaller samples of district leaders across three states: Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Specifically, in spring 2019, the authors asked state-representative samples of teachers in these states about the extent to which their curricula, assessments, and other components of their instructional systems cohered with one another and aligned with state standards.
The authors examine the alignment of curriculum to standards, as well as the extent to which four components of instructional systems hypothesized as key to supporting instructional coherence are aligned to standards or the curriculum: curriculum-related resources (e.g., lesson plans, pacing guides), professional development, teacher evaluation, and student assessments. Using these findings, the authors build a measure of the overall extent of coherence in teachers' ELA instructional systems.
A Standards-Aligned Coherent Instructional System
Study Approach and Background