Benchmarks of Quality

The Benchmarks of Quality (Benchmarks) are a tool for education leaders that outline effective English Learner (EL) supports in instructional materials.

Who should use these Benchmarks of Quality?

State curricular adoption teams

State adoption teams can use this tool to inform the policies and fundamental criteria they set to determine which instructional materials will be recommended for districts or schools to choose from. This tool can serve as a resource for professional learning during instructional material adoption processes. Leaders may use the Benchmarks as a tool to support the implementation of current materials.

District and school teams

Teams seeking to adopt new curricula can use the Benchmarks to inform their creation of criteria or use it as the criteria to assess the quality of instructional materials and the extent to which ELs' needs are addressed through the materials.

What are the Benchmarks of Quality?

The Benchmarks of Quality is a tool that outlines effective EL supports in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics materials. The Benchmarks are aligned with the guidelines and designed to support states, districts and schools to review and adapt instructional materials to meet the needs of multilingual learners.

Why this work matters

In the United States, there are currently five million1 English learners in K-12 schools. Students in this diverse and growing population bring with them unique assets and learning needs that have the potential to transform education for all students. By attending to ELs’ needs, educators can create more inclusive, engaging, and rigorous classrooms that support language and content learning for every learner. Sadly, the immense academic potential of ELs has yet to be realized in U.S. schools, and wide gaps in academic achievement and learning opportunities persist.2 English Learners Success Forum believes that with the right tools, including high quality curriculum, these gaps can be addressed and all ELs can be successful in meeting their academic and career goals.

Importance of high quality curriculum

More than 70% of teachers report that they have received inadequate preparation to effectively teach ELs. Most teachers believe their core content materials are not designed to raise ELs’ academic performance. This can be remedied by improving the quality and implementation of instructional materials.

There is substantial evidence indicating the importance of high quality materials. Specifically,

  • EL achievement can be improved by implementing a high-quality curriculum.3
  • High-quality curriculum that integrates the assets and needs of ELs is more effective than offering add-on interventions.4
  • High-quality curriculum is one of the key influencers of student learning.5
  • High-quality curriculum is key to effectively implementing state standards.6

When purchasing traditional ELA and math instructional materials, state, district, and school leaders must consider ALL students, with a particular focus on ELs. State, district, and school adoption committees and procurement teams should first focus on what instructional materials offer ELs and then consider how these high-quality materials will also support all students.

Orienting questions for the Benchmarks

  1. What are the fundamental design features to look for/consider in instructional materials that attend to ELs’ assets and needs?
  2. How might we use an analysis of the strengths and challenges in instructional materials to enhance or adapt materials for multilingual learners?

Structure of Benchmarks and Supplementary Materials

The Benchmarks contain five benchmarks each for ELA and mathematics. Each benchmark includes indicators to illustrate the big ideas underlying the benchmark. We will be adding supplemental materials to support each Benchmark soon. Please stay tuned.


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