ISBE Black History Curriculum Task Force Survey Finds Newsela Most Popular Social Studies Resource For Pre-K through 8th Grade

ISBE Black History Curriculum Task Force Survey Finds Newsela Most Popular Social Studies Resource For Pre-K through 8th Grade

February 24, 2021

New York, NY - A recent survey conducted by the Illinois School Board of Education’s (ISBE) Black History Curriculum Task Force has found leading K-12 instructional content platform Newsela to be the most popular educational resource for implementing Social Studies Curriculum in elementary schools. The results were part of the recent ISBE Black History Curriculum Task Force survey of Illinois school districts to understand the implementation of Black History Curriculum requirements in the state. 

As a partner to school districts around the country, Newsela’s resources are built from the ground up with anti-bias, anti-racist, instruction-ready content including diverse perspectives and unheard narratives for teachers and students to spark discussion and action. The dynamic platform provides educators with customized curriculum collections to connect current events, like the Black Lives Matter movement, to overarching lessons of systemic racism, police brutality, and civil rights advocacy. Newsela aims to engage and motivate students by directly connecting their lessons in the classroom to what is happening in the world around them.  

“This survey and the work of the Black History Curriculum Task Force are vital in holding districts accountable for ensuring students are represented in both curricula and instructional materials, and that they incorporate anti-racist, anti-bias resources for teachers to utilize,” said Jennifer Coogan, Chief Content Officer at Newsela. “Emphasizing Black History and incorporating anti-racist instruction into Social Studies curriculum is essential to engaging and motivating students. It is also critical to ensuring that students of all backgrounds are reflected fairly and accurately throughout the course of their education. We are dedicated to providing high-quality instructional materials and resources that teachers need to bring authentic, representative, and diverse voices into the classroom.”

The Task Force’s survey found the majority of school districts understand the importance of incorporating Black History, but 64% of respondents feel that they are still only somewhat achieving the goals of anti-bias, anti-racist education. This finding aligns with the results of a recent Newsela survey of more than 1,600 public school teachers and school and district leaders across the country to understand attitudes about anti-racist instruction in American classrooms. 

Newsela’s survey found:

  • Nearly nine out of 10 educators believe anti-racist approaches to instruction are important (86%)

  • Approximately two-thirds said anti-racist instruction should be a higher priority (63%) in their school or district

  • Barriers that prevent the use of anti-racist content as part of instruction, include a lack of professional development on the topic (52%) and no district (49%) or state-level (43%) mandates to do so 

  • More than 40% of educators also cited not having the necessary learning materials and tools needed for anti-racist instruction

Throughout Black History Month, teachers and students have access to resources on Newsela’s Black History is Our History homepage. The page houses featured content where teachers can quickly find weekly text sets that include articles centered on Black history and culture and reproduced at multiple reading levels. There are also ELA collection samples highlighting Black authors and their words. Teachers and students also have access to the Black Students Matter hub which includes identity courses for anti-racist teaching and instruction. Additionally, Newsela has partnered with Teaching for Tolerance to put together short 5, 15, and 30-minute lessons to help educators develop and build a more culturally responsive classroom.