In a recent Ed Next article, Mike Petrilli wrote about EngageNY Math, a free online math curriculum library (now marketed under the name Eureka Math) that has become surprisingly popular with teachers across the country.
A new study by Rand looks more closely at how and why teachers are using the math curriculum and an associated reading curriculum, which are both now promoted under the name EngageNY. Liana Loewus of Ed Week reviews the highlights of the study here.
Among the findings
The majority of teachers who are using EngageNY materials say they’re doing so at the urging of their district. “It’s not the case that teachers are just going online all the time and finding these,” said Julia Kaufman, the report’s lead author. Between 80 and 90 percent of teachers indicated their districts required or recommended they use the materials.
Mike Petrilli had explained in his EdNext article how the curriculum was being used by some districts.
Why is Eureka Math so popular when other resources go begging for users? Eureka Math is hardly the first or only open educational resources (OER) available on the web. Nor is it the case that nobody has ever built a solid math program before. And its competition includes huge textbook companies with well-established distribution channels, including hundreds of former school superintendents buying steak dinners for their pals and getting them to purchase the latest series. What explains the program’s meteoric rise and continental reach?
Ironically, its success may be due in part to the fact that it isn’t entirely free. One source I spoke to said that part of Eureka’s genius was that it “filled the beast’s need to procure.”
While anyone can download the math modules from EngageNY, the OER version is available only via clumsy PDFs. To get an easier-to-use online interface, plus a rich library of training videos, schools need to purchase a subscription from Great Minds. And even then, most want print materials, plus professional development, which the organization also offers—for a fee.
And guess what? Schools are willing to pay. District administrators and procurement officers have budgets for materials and feel strange about not using them. The OER version gave them a low-risk way to try out the curriculum; the paid version gave them something to buy.
– Education Next