Opportunities to learn: Mathematics textbooks and students’ achievements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores how textbooks function in education. It asked whether opportunities provided in math textbooks to engage in tasks demanding different levels of understanding correlate with students’ achievements on tasks demanding equivalent levels of understanding on a standardized exam. The textbooks evaluated were two 8th grade mathematics textbooks used by students in the Arab community in Israel, showing that Textbook A makes more cognitive demands than Textbook B. The study correlated textbooks’ cognitive demand with the scores of all 8th grade students in the Arab community who completed the national math test in 2015 and studied in schools using either Textbook A or B (N = 4040), while attending to mediating variables. The findings show that if a textbook provides the opportunity to engage in tasks demanding higher levels of understanding, students using this book will have higher scores. The study shows that gender and SES play an important role in how opportunities provided in textbooks interact with students’ scores. Many factors influence variations in mathematics achievements within and between nations. The findings illuminate textbooks’ ability to provide opportunities to learn mathematics. As a result, they raise new questions about how teachers use textbooks and about the role of textbooks in promoting access and equity in mathematics education. Although the work explored specific textbooks, its findings shed light on how learning opportunities relate to achievements more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-166
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in Educational Evaluation
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Curriculum studies
  • Mathematics curriculum
  • Students’ achievements
  • Textbook analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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