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OER Math Curriculum in Kiddom… Why is it All the Same?

Both of these math curricula look the same, what’s going on?

When it comes to high-quality, problem-based mathematics curricula, you’ve probably noticed there are multiple versions of the same content floating around the K-12 marketplace. These curricula are being presented under different names and by different publishers. What’s going on?

In fact, within the Kiddom education platform, there are two different versions of the same curriculum. One is Illustrative Mathematics K-8 published by Kendall Hunt (IM Certified) and the other is Open Up Resources Math K-8. These curricula have the same high-quality foundation as the original K-8 curriculum authored by Illustrative Mathematics. As such, they offer the same level of coherence, rigor, and problem-based focus, with nearly identical scope and sequence and alignment to standards. 

Even though these core curricula are identical, Kendall Hunt and Open Up Resources provide different add-ons to their version. Having both versions of this content in Kiddom available to school districts enables districts to adopt the version that better suits their needs, knowing full well they will gain all of the benefits the Kiddom platform offers with either of these offerings. With multiple options for our customers, Kiddom offers more voice and choice over the different add-ons and enhancements that are provided to each curriculum, enabled by the content’s licensing structure. That’s the beauty of content authored as an open educational resource.

If you imagine two photographers standing side-by-side as they both take a picture of the same view: they both have images of the same object. But, they might bring different things into focus or use a different angle to shift the perspective. Or they might add an effect to the final product to enhance something. This is analogous to what Kiddom offers its customers with multiple variants/interpretations of the same high-quality curriculum. 

To offer some additional color, here are some frequently asked questions (and the answers) about duplicate curricula with similar EdReports ratings floating around in the K-12 marketplace:

Why do multiple versions of the same mathematics curriculum exist in the marketplace? Is this a new phenomenon?

Over the last ten years, there has been tremendous growth in the development and use of open educational resources. Open Educational Resources (“OER”) are teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities-retaining, remixing, revising, reusing, and redistributing the resources.

OER uses different licenses than traditional copyright and trademark laws. The licensing framework OER uses is offered by Creative Commons. The goal of Creative Commons licenses is to overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to solve vexing problems. One of these problems is the lack of equitable access to high-quality instructional materials for all students-something Kiddom is also trying to solve!

The most expansive Creative Commons License that most of Kiddom’s curriculum partners use is CC BY. A CC BY license means you are free to:

  • Share – copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

Under a CC BY license, the licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms: Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

What CC BY licenses enable, which is particularly important to Kiddom, is for content creators to modify, remix, and redistribute original curricula such as Illustrative Mathematics. This allows for multiple similar versions to be offered in the education marketplace, offering expanded choices to leaders, teachers, and students.

What is the history of OER in K-12 education?

In 2012-13, as the Common Core State Standards (for mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA)) were introduced and rolled out across the United States, there was a need for new instructional materials that were aligned to these new higher-order standards.

The traditional publishers did not meet this need and just made very surface changes to their existing ELA and Math curricula. Research conducted at the time reflected that districts were seeking materials that reflected the shifts in teaching that the Common Core required and were coming up empty-handed.

The Learning Accelerator, a national nonprofit, together with 10 states, Creative Commons, Achieve, CCSSO, and other groups created the K-12 OER Collaborative. The goal of the collaborative was to meet this need by creating a high-quality, lower-cost, flexible, aligned OER core curriculum for K-12 ELA and Math. The Collaborative raised significant philanthropic dollars to run an RFP process and fund the development of the OER curriculum.

The Collaborative selected EL Education and Illustrative Mathematics from a competitive field to develop middle school curricular materials.

These curricula offered an additional choice to school districts, allowed them to significantly reduce expenditures for instructional materials, and provided much greater flexibility with higher-quality digital educational content.

The K-12 OER Collaborative was renamed Open Up Resources and it became an independent 501(c)(3) organization that is now a partner of Kiddom.

Why are OER valuable for teaching and learning?

OER offered districts a new option that was far more flexible than traditional textbooks and allowed educators to modify them to personalize and contextualize for their students. This also did away with the long 8-10 year adoption cycles as materials could be updated in real-time according to their Creative Commons licenses as needs were identified.

Specifically, states and districts were able to transition from expensive and rigidly controlled materials to OER. As explained above, their licenses grant permission for anyone to freely and legally use, adapt and redistribute the resources. Schools and districts can maintain and improve individual copies of the resources.

Why does Kiddom partner with OER publishers?

Kiddom is working towards equity in education and believes every student deserves access to high-quality instructional materials.

OER offers a solution to the challenge of delivering high levels of student learning at a lower cost than traditional textbooks. In addition to cost savings, Kiddom believes that well-designed, editable, OER can engage students and energize educators in ways that enable more responsive teaching and better learning.

Why did Kiddom decide to offer both Open Up Resources Math and Kendall Hunt Illustrative Mathematics Certified Math?

As described above, by licensing curricula with CC BY licenses, the original source of the top-quality math curriculum authored by Illustrative Mathematics, has been built upon and modified by other publishers. That is the beauty of open licenses-that multiple versions of similar content can live in the education ecosystem and all can be implemented. School districts have the choice to select among similar versions to find one that fits best for their student and teacher needs.

Kiddom wanted to offer its customers the best available curriculum and by partnering with both publishers, could offer its customers an additional choice:

Open Up Resources Math K-8 is a problem-based curriculum originally authored by Illustrative Mathematics and released under a CC BY license. Open Up Resources Math continues to make improvements to its version of Illustrative Mathematics K-8 math.

Kendall Hunt Illustrative Mathematics Certified K-12 Math is the latest version of this math curriculum as developed by Illustrative Mathematics.

Both of these versions are based on the Illustrative Mathematics original curriculum and distributed by Open Up Resources. The improvements are designed to enhance the student learning and teaching experience, but at their core, they are essentially the same and offer problem-based, discourse-focused math curricula that are aligned with current math standards.
Both of these receive the highest reviews from Ed Reports, the industry expert in evaluating curricula. Kiddom customers can be assured that all of these options it offers are the best options for its students.

Districts make a smart choice by adopting and implementing either one of these options as they mirror each other and are considered to be the best math curricula on the marketplace to achieve 21st-century learning and understanding.

By reviewing any particular lesson in both Open Up Resources Math and Kendall Hunt Illustrative Mathematics Certified Kiddom customers will observe that the foundational math is presented in the same way. However, Open Up Resources Math K-8 submitted a version as part of the current 2022-23 Tennessee adoption process, “Textbooks and Instructional Materials Bid for State Review.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.


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