The Current Role Of The Core Reading Textbook

By Robert M. Resnick, Ph.D., Education Market Research

According to the results of a fall 2013 survey of the elementary Reading market segment, conducted by Education Market Research (EMR), a clear majority of the educators sampled (73.3%) still have a core/basal Reading series which they either “follow very closely” (28.8%) or, more often, from which they “pick and choose parts of it to use as needed” (44.5%). Only 26.7% indicated they do not use a core Reading series. [Thus the number not using a basal at all has increased significantly compared to 18.5% in 2000, but it is not much different compared to the educators’ reports in 2010, 2007, 2004, and 2002.] Evidently the use of Reading textbooks continues at a relatively high frequency, although most teachers “pick and choose”, suggesting that they use other tools on a frequent basis as well.

Analysis by Job Title and Grade Level

Classroom teachers (76.1%) and Principals (80.0%) were the strongest advocates for using a core Reading series, followed by the district Curriculum supervisors (73.6%), and the Reading/ Language Arts teachers (68.1%). In terms of grade level, educators in grades K-2 (76.8%) and grades 3-5 (72.6%) were the most likely to use a basal, while those in grades 6 and above (68.0%) were relatively less likely to rely on a basal, but they were still in the majority. The grades K-2 teachers were more likely to follow their core series very closely compared to the grades 3-5 teachers, and compared to the grades 6-8 teachers. The most experienced teachers [10+ years experience] were about the same (73.8%) compared to their moderately experienced [3-10 years] colleagues (71.0%) in terms of core program usage.

In terms of geographic differences, the educators in the Northeast (63.1%) and the Midwest (68.5%) were below the average (average=73.3%) in their usage of a core Reading series, while the Southwest (76.8%) and the West (84.4%) were above average. The Southeast (75.8%) was closer to average.