Textbook Reliance: Traditional Curriculum Dependence Is Symptomatic of a Larger Educational Problem

Timothy Scott, Farhat N. Husain


The complexities of adapting traditional educational courses to a virtual setting highlighted numerous inequalities within the current United States’ K12 school system. Students in low socioeconomic communities have suffered a more significant academic slide in core competencies due to poor lesson integration, online learning fatigue, poor learning environments, and low technological proficiency. Policymakers, believing achievement gaps result from teaching performance, have argued for additional academic controls that promote rigorous standardized instruction to reduce existing achievement gaps. However, a state-mandated textbook-driven curriculum that prioritizes test-taking strategies will only exasperate previous educational deficiencies. As numerous schools face significant financial constraints, technological and resource investment is severally limited, and teacher professional development is marginalized. Without appropriate tools or skills to adapt curriculum, classes devolve into simple rote-learning of textbook content lacking any semblance of differentiated instruction. Students in impoverished communities disassociate with taught content as textbooks lack a multicultural presentation; thus they perceive school environments as unwelcoming and hostile towards their lived-experiences. Performance-based funding through high-stakes accountability further incentifies underfunded schools to abandon student-centric learning designs and prioritize a textbook dependent ‘one-size-fits-few’ strategy to avoid sanctions to meet state benchmarks. While a return to traditional classroom instruction may signal a return to normal, without increased state funding, reduced emphasis on standardized testing, improved teacher professional development, and incorporation of multivoiced textbooks, a return to normal will additionally signal a return to existing educational inequalities in the US.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jei.v7i1.18447


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Journal of Educational Issues  ISSN 2377-2263

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