Textbooks and other instructional materials are second only to the teacher in the central role they play in classroom instruction. Well-researched, standards-based instructional materials are an essential key to successful teaching and learning. Unfortunately, at a time when federal and state governments are demanding higher standards and greater accountability in our schools, far too many students are not given the instructional materials they need to succeed. Students have no real opportunity to learn and to meet their states’ academic standards when they lack access to quality, up-to-date instructional materials.
In 2006, average per pupil spending for K-12 textbooks in U.S. public schools amounted
to $64.51 annually or just .36 cents per instructional day. (Sources: National Center for Education Statistics; AAP industry statistics 2006.)
K-12 instructional materials are expertly designed, durable, and affordable. For example,
a 4th grade reading textbook priced at $60 is typically used for at least six years. That’s just
$10 per year or .055 cents per instructional day.
Spending on K-12 textbooks amounts to just 1 percent of the public education dollar (Source: AAP). The problem is not a new one. In 1983, A Nation at Risk, the seminal U.S. education report of the late 20th century, was blunt in its assessment of the situation: “Expenditures for textbooks and other instructional materials have declined by 50 percent over the past 17 years. While some recommend a level of spending on texts of between 5 and 10 percent of the operating costs of schools, the budgets for basal texts and related materials have been dropping. …” While many things have changed since the release of A Nation at Risk, one thing hasn’t: Funding for instructional materials remains at deplorably low levels.
Spending on instructional materials lags behind many other U.S. industries. For example:
- Pet Care & Pet Products $38.5 billion (2006)
- Toys $22.3 billion (2006)
- K-12 Instructional Materials $ 8.1 billion (2006)
(Sources: American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Toy Industry Association, Education Market Research)
Today’s “textbooks” are far more than just printed editions. They are comprehensive learning systems delivered in both print and electronic media. The programs are based on scientific research and they include pedagogical approaches and instructional strategies to help all students meet state standards. Over time, the student textbook and teacher’s edition have grown to become comprehensive systems that enable classroom teachers to teach, assess, diagnose and prescribe solutions for all kinds of learners. Publishers invest considerable resources to develop the systems so that they have the necessary instructional content, structure, scope, sequence, and standards alignment. Key components of each system include: instructional materials for the student, teacher productivity tools, professional development, and assessment activities.
In sum, students do not have the opportunity to learn when they do not have access to current instructional materials. To remedy this situation, AAP recommends:
- Every student in every class must be provided a current standards-based textbook in each of the core academic areas: reading/language arts, mathematics, science, and history/social studies.
- Instructional materials must reflect current state academic standards and they should be replaced at least every five years, or when states make significant changes to their academic standards.
- States need to quickly increase their investments for instructional materials in order to provide all students with the opportunity to learn and to help them meet state and federal educational mandates.
- Every child in a school not making adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) should be provided access to up-to-date and aligned instructional materials. Federal funds should be authorized and appropriated to accomplish this goal.
- State and district report cards should provide information on adequacy and availability of instructional materials.
“Providing textbooks and supplementary instructional materials that reflect the state’s
academic standards are essential elements in the construction of a convincing argument
that students have had an adequate opportunity to learn the content tested
and that teachers have had the resources necessary to teach that content.”
—Opportunity to Learn in High-Stakes Testing, an AAP white paper developed by Dr. Susan E. Phillips, a leading expert on the legal requirements for high-stakes testing. To read the entire paper, click