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Middle Grades Mathematics Textbooks

A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation

Part I (Continued)
The Ratings

Project 2061 selected two different types of textbook series for review. Some are "best sellers" that are representative of the mathematics textbooks that most middle school teachers are likely to be using in their classrooms or considering for adoption. Others represent the current efforts of curriculum developers, researchers, and textbook publishers. These are just entering the textbook market and are not as well known or well established as the more commercial series.

Because Project 2061’s analysis of textbooks requires a great deal of resources, we decided to focus our first round of evaluations on printed materials and not to include software or other media. We also decided to focus on complete mathematics programs written specifically for the middle grades rather than on K-8 basal series or on supplementary materials that did not span grades 6, 7, and 8. With these requirements in mind, the project selected eight of the most widely used textbook series from major publishers, along with four sets of materials that have been developed recently with funding from the National Science Foundation. We also analyzed another series that many educators see as an alternative to both of these.

The following chart compares 12 of the textbooks that were evaluated and shows how well each scored on its depth of coverage and the quality of its instructional support across all six benchmarks. The data represent both the range and variation of scores across the instructional criteria. The three top-rated textbook series had a median rating of more than 2.5 on a scale of 0-3 points for all of the 24 instructional criteria for all six benchmarks. To show the range of scores given to each book across the 24 criteria for instructional quality, the summary chart indicates the median and also the highest and lowest criterion scores for each textbook. The diagram below explains how to interpret the quality of instructional support data shown in the chart that follows.



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