OER provider launches with $10m to address quality gaps in K-12 curriculum market

MENLO PARK, CA – September 14th, 2016 – Open Up Resources, a nonprofit founded to develop openly-licensed, standards-aligned curricula capable of competing head-to-head with traditional publishers, is announcing that its first comprehensive curricula will be available for adoption

by districts in the 2017-18 school year.

Open Up Resources has raised $10M to ensure that districts have access to materials that truly align to the expectations of the new state standards in the US, while also providing savings of up to 80% versus core programs from traditional providers.

The nonprofit also selected five school districts as charter partners for the initial product, an openly-licensed middle school mathematics curriculum; these partner districts will use the materials for the full 2016-17 school year, collaboratively refining the curricula in advance of their general release in 2017-18.

The openly-licensed curricula provided by Open Up Resources are distinguished by a number of factors:

– Developed by expert authors: The middle school math curriculum was authored by Illustrative Mathematics, the organization founded by noted mathematician and state standards author William McCallum.

– Curriculum-scale: Open Up Resources provides complete curricula which can substitute for existing textbooks – a rare breadth and depth in the OER space, where resources are typically individual lesson materials and other ‘small grain-size’ content.

– Significantly less costly for districts: The freely-licensed content allows districts to save up to 80% overall versus the cost of adopting materials from traditional publishers. Districts need only invest in implementation services, such as printing and professional development.

– Accompanied by extensive support for district adoption: Implementation services, including professional development, low-cost printing and distribution of the materials, and localization and customization services are available to districts for optional purchase. Education leaders have described the lack of these key supports as barriers to adoption of other Open Educational Resources, for many districts struggle to find the capacity to support district-level use of OER. Open Up Resources provides districts with the necessary resources to facilitate district-level adoption.

– Developed with advanced supports for English Language Learners: Deep ELL support is designed into the materials for each curriculum, based on a collaboration with the Understanding Language/Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (UL/SCALE) led by Dr. Kenji Hakuta. The materials provide strategies and routines to address oral and written language use, thus supporting all learners.

– Provided under the most flexible license: The curriculum is the first middle school math curriculum to be released under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY), the most accommodating of OER licenses.

Open Up Resources chose middle school math as its first offering after noting that the majority of curricula for grades 6-8 were deemed to be unaligned to state standards, based on reviews by independent reviewer EdReports. Illustrative Mathematics’ curricula were tailor-built for implementation of state math standards, with emphasis on rigor and coherence from lesson-to-lesson and grade-to-grade. The materials are available in both digital and print formats.

Larry Singer, CEO of Open Up Resources, said, “The combination of best-in-class quality and dramatically lower adoption costs will blow the competition away. While we know that our price will be unbeatable, our primary focus is on providing the most standard-aligned materials and the best supports for English Language Learners, and thus winning the fit and quality assessment aspect of the materials procurement process.”

Superintendent Steve Holmes of Sunnyside School District in Arizona said, “The Illustrative Mathematics materials are highly regarded in our district, and we are pleased to be piloting the first curriculum provided by Dr. McCallum and team. While the exceptional quality of these materials is our primary focus, we are also drawn to the potential of materials that marry superior standards-alignment with affordability, as Open Educational Resources. Given the importance of responsible stewardship of public funds, I am proud to support the mission of Open Up Resources.”

Said Singer, “We are very grateful to the teachers and administrators of our partner districts. Their collaboration will ensure that these materials are the highest-quality middle school math resources available when they are broadly released for the ‘17–‘18 school year.”

Open Up Resources was formerly known as the K-12 OER Collaborative, an effort originally founded by 13 states and incubated in 2015 by The Learning Accelerator. Today, the California-based 501(c)(3) organization debuts its new name, logo, and web presence at openupresources.org.

With $10 million in funding, the K-12 philanthropic community has generously supported the not-for-profit’s mission: to build, promote, and distribute high quality instructional materials, and to develop the marketing and sales capacity to compete head to head with what Singer describes as the “oligopoly of traditional for-profit textbook publishers” for consideration of their offerings. Later this year, Open Up Resources plans to debut an openly-licensed K-5 English Language Arts curriculum, which it will market directly to districts alongside the mathematics curriculum offerings.

School districts interested in reviewing the materials can contact Open Up Resources: info@openup.org.

About Open Up Resources

Open Up Resources is a nonprofit developing the highest-quality full course curricula, openly licensed for reduced cost to districts.

Formerly the K-12 OER Collaborative, Open Up Resources partners with the country’s foremost materials experts in the development of superb, freely-licensed instructional materials, then provides districts with necessary support for implementation with fidelity. Its mission: to provide students with equal access to rigorous, standards-aligned materials, while easing adoption by districts.