EngageNY a Solid Alternative to Expensive Curriculum, Report Says


Unlike other states that get curricula from education content providers, New York has built its own standards-aligned curriculum and made it available online for free through EngageNY. A Thomas B. Fordham Institute report which assessed the venture discovered that the effort provides an “excellent alternative” to curricula from large publishers.

In the report, “Uncommonly Engaging? A Review of the EngageNY English Language Arts Common Core Curriculum,” authors Elizabeth Haydel and Sheila Byrd Carmichael have concluded in their evaluation that the program offers:

“[A] thorough, evidenced-based approach to literary instruction across all grades (though the study of vocabulary and grammar is not as strong). The coverage of foundational reading skills is outstanding, text selection across all grades is mostly good, and content development and sequencing is generally strong. . . .  alignment to essential Common Core expectations and skills does not suffer.

Kathleen Porter-Magee and Victoria Sears said:

“There is a dearth of programs that are well and truly aligned to the content and rigor demands of Common Core. . . . While imperfect, the materials offer educators—both inside and outside New York State—an important alternative to traditional textbooks of questionable quality and alignment.”

Nine in 10 districts are saying they face major or minor challenges when searching for or developing curricula that are standards-aligned, according to the Center on Education Policy.

The report says that the math and ELA modules provided through EngageNY were downloaded nationwide over 20 million times.

According to the Department of Education, the high-quality and user-friendly resources are used increasingly by educators across the country. Math coach Lori Macdonald is a California-based instructor who uses EngageNY to find relevant material for teachers in her district:

“In our district, we are using exactly what schools are using in New York, and we’re using it for free,” MacDonald said. “A lot of what we need is on EngageNY.”

Duval, Florida schools are making the switch to online course materials thanks to EngageNY, according to The Florida Times-Union. This next school year, instructors at Duval will use EngageNY core curriculum for teaching math and reading. Instead of buying print textbooks, the schools are going digital and will print out much of the EngageNY-provided material.

Some weaknesses were also identified in EngageNY, including an overwhelming amount of content in early grade material and an incomplete high school curriculum that “lacks a critical emphasis on literary content” where students are encouraged to selectively read book passages rather than a book from cover to cover:

“The New York curriculum includes only excerpted passages, leaving little time or space for teachers to incorporate novel study into their planning and instruction.”

Since its launch in August 2011, EngageNY has over 6.5 million unique visitors and almost 15 million total visits.