HMH Response to “Lessons in (In)Equity: An Evaluation of Cultural Responsiveness in Elementary ELA Curriculum”

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All students must be able to see themselves and the possibilities for their future success reflected in the resources they use at school. At HMH, we take this seriously. In my role as Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, my team and I focus on how we build and deliver educational materials that reflect and honor the diverse students, educators, and communities we serve each day. Our programs undergo years of research and evaluation to ensure cultural responsiveness and equitable representation and inclusion, drawing on input from third-party experts and school district partners.

In October of 2022, the Education Justice Research and Organizing Collaborative (EJ-ROC) and NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools published a study of cultural responsiveness in ELA curriculums, including an erroneous evaluation of HMH Into Reading.

The EJ-ROC report is deeply flawed. I feel strongly that it must be clear to the communities we serve that this report does not provide an accurate view of Into Reading, nor does the report reflect HMH’s passionate, longstanding commitment to culturally-affirming practices. It provides an extremely limited scope, yet offers sweeping generalizations that are not grounded in reading pedagogy. In doing so, it mischaracterizes Into Reading as a whole and misrepresents the numerous program authors whose work and expertise contribute meaning to the curriculum.

We have outlined our serious concerns with the report and a full summary of our findings can be read here. The points below reflect our deepest concerns:

  • The report does not take into consideration 95% of the program: The review is based on less than 5% of HMH’s Into Reading and omits critical program components, including teacher guides focused on culturally responsive teaching and supports for multilingual learners, among additional resources.
  • The review panel was lacking in pedagogical expertise: The review panel was not independent and did not include educators with expertise in reading pedagogy, which means that report findings may not be appropriately aligned to evidence-based strategies for teaching reading or standards alignment.
  • The review does not use curriculum-research best practices: The report did not follow research best practices and offers an uneven, misleading portrait of the instructional-materials landscape.

HMH has connected with the team at NYU Metro Center/ EJ-ROC to express our concerns about the evaluation, to share a more robust sample of the program, and to provide direct insight on our curriculum development process. Ultimately, our hope is to create dialogue. We believe we share a goal—to honor, uplift, and empower young people through learning—and we would like to move forward with a deeper understanding of how the work of our organizations can remain focused on this pursuit. We have requested that our response be shared alongside the published report, as this is an industry best practice in third-party curriculum reviews, though at the time of this writing, this request has not been fulfilled.

I’ve focused my life on ensuring all students have access to equity-centered, inclusive, high-quality curriculum. I want each student to feel respected, important, and proud while they are learning with our materials. We all know this work is never complete, and we also know this work is urgent. We need partnership, resources, policy, and perseverance. I’m proud of the work we do at HMH. Our dedication first and foremost is to learners and educators, and we won’t waver from this north star.

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