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Evidence-based Practice: Evidence-based curricula


A growing body of experimental research shows that particular subject-specific curricula can lead to different academic achievement outcomes for students. The WWC can be used to identify particular curricula that have proven effective in different grades and subjects. To illustrate just one example, the Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS) Space Science Sequence, which uses models, hands-on investigations, peer-to-peer discussions, reflection, and informational student readings, has been shown to improve science achievement for students in grades 4–5. As another example, the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) core math curriculum, which emphasizes problem solving, real-world applications, and the use of technology “based on a student-centered approach with a focus on active learning,” has been shown to improve math achievement for students in grades 7–10. There is limited evidence about the features of curricula that make them effective, although research summarized by Education First suggests that content richness and standards alignment are common qualities of effective curricula. Also, curricula that prioritize student engagement through additional instructional materials or culturally relevant content may have positive effects on student achievement. Curricula that engage and support teachers effectively may increase the frequency and fidelity of implementation, which are likely to shape the effectiveness of those curricula in improving student achievement. We recommend decision makers consult the WWC, as well as resources such as EdReports, which rates curricula according to their coherence, standards alignment, and usability, to inform the selection of evidence-based curricula.


The framework's recommendations are based on syntheses of existing research. Please see the framework report for a list of works cited.

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