Students looking at core or supplementary learning materials

Comprehensive vs. Supplemental Instructional Materials

What is the difference between comprehensive and supplemental learning materials?

What are comprehensive instructional materials?

A comprehensive curriculum, also called core and basal, is a primary instructional resource designed for a specific content area. It is a full course that addresses all, or nearly all, of the standards and foundational skills for student learning for that grade and subject.

Basal learning materials are heavily based on a state’s standards and educational research and are “the backbones” of classroom education, Stephanie Stephens from EdReports explained. These core materials are used for Tier 1 instruction and within the ability range of a large majority of students.

Experts at The Learning List, who review thousands of instructional materials, further explained that a comprehensive curriculum includes “broad, deep discussions of content; remediation and enrichment activities; formative and summative assessments; as well as teacher resources.”

They added that while these materials tightly align with standards, some may not cover 100% of them; ergo, many schools use supplemental materials in addition to comprehensive content.

What are supplemental instructional materials?

Supplemental curriculum plugs into an existing comprehensive program, and is “not designed to be the sole instructional resource for a course. Instead, supplementary materials complement, enrich, or extend the content of comprehensive resources,” according to Learning List experts. These materials often help a teacher differentiate to meet diverse student needs or include relevant classroom technology, i.e. videos or podcasts, to further engage students in interactive learning.

Supplemental learning materials do not align with or cover all state standards for a particular grade and subject, and can often vary in how they align with state and national requirements. Some dive deep into a set of standards while others, like test prep resources, briefly review all course criteria.

Thus, supplemental resources do not replace comprehensive instruction but add to it to provide students with higher-quality education.

Comprehensive vs supplemental curriculum infographic from Studies Weekly


Is Studies Weekly a comprehensive curriculum?

Studies Weekly is a comprehensive standards-based curriculum founded on deep learning strategies that increase student knowledge and skills in Social Studies, Science, and Well-Being, with integrated ELA support.

Here are examples of how Studies Weekly covers state-specific standards; click the images to see the entire scope and sequence reports.

Delaware Social Studies Scope and Sequence Report

Studies Weekly Delaware Scope and Sequence for Comprehensive Learning Materials

Kentucky Social Studies Scope and Sequence Report

Studies Weekly Kentucky Scope and Sequence for Comprehensive Learning Materials

West Virginia Social Studies Scope and Sequence Report

Studies Weekly West Virginia Scope and Sequence for Comprehensive Learning Materials

See state-specific examples of Studies Weekly Social Studies, Science, and Well-Being on our website.

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