Reviewed OER Library

<< Return to resource list

Open High School of Utah Algebra 1

Open High School of Utah

View Resource

Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2013 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.


This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2013. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

Background from OER Project Review Team
Mountain Heights Academy, formerly known as Open High School of Utah, is an online public charter school that builds its own curriculum from existing open source content and from teacher-created materials. This course includes a Moodle and Common Cartridge 1.1 file that are available for download. For assessment validity reasons, these resources are course content only and do not include assignments, forums, quizzes, or exams. This should factor into the viewer’s analysis of the review results.

Publishers' Criteria (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Strongly Disagree) to 3 (Strongly Agree). Focus: 1.2, Rigor & Balance: 1.2, Consistent Content: 1.4, Coherent Connections: 0.93, Reasoning: 0.8, Standards for Practice: 0.67.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Not Recommended (0.4)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 0.8, Key Area of Focus: 1.2, Instructional Supports: 1.2, Assessment: 1.0.
Unit 4

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 1.2, Interactivity: 1.8, Exercises: 1.5, Deeper Learning: 0.8.
Unit 4

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Extreme (0.8)

The course is designed for online learning. The lesson is typically divided into three sections, Learn, Watch and Explore. In “Learn” there are warm up questions, which connect to the lesson from the day before. Students are prompted to enter solutions into the box and instant feedback is given. However, student may also choose to skip warm up questions. The lesson is introduced after the warm up questions. Student may interact with the lesson practice questions. Homework practice is provided at the end of the lesson. Students may submit answers and receive feedback instantly. In “Watch”, a video tutorial is provided for the lesson introduced in “Learn”. The “Explore” offers an online interactive activity for the student to manipulate the inequalities for this unit.

This unit is designed for two-week period. The differentiation offered is the instructional method; some students can excel with the online learning. There is no opportunity for discussion or small group work.

Lesson practice test and unit exam is offered at the end of the unit.

I will use this material for blended learning.

Mathematical practices are not listed in the material, I believe opportunities are provided but to verify is difficult through online learning.

Lessons are connected in a sequential manner and easy to follow.

CCSS are not listed in the lesson.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

The Algebra curriculum that the Open High School of Utah offers is a free online resource for students to learn at a weekly pace. It is designed for students to view instructional materials and provides opportunities to practice the concepts and skills they are learning. Utah Open calls these problems checkpoints to monitor student learning and overall comprehension. The videos provided are helpful and in many cases teach the material at a conceptual level; however, the videos lack depth and specificity. Also, the checkpoints that Utah Open provided assesses students on an extremely basic level and are far too short to know if a student understands what is presented. It is my opinion that this resource covers the topics Common Core has outlined to be taught, but does not assess the actual standards throughout the course. I would recommend they create leveled assessments as checkpoints that grow in complexity and directly align to Common Core standards. Lastly, after the assessments are created, I would recommend that they review their instructional videos to see if they cover the material and teach at the level of the assessment. Overall, much work would need to be done if a teacher thought about using this as their primary curricular resource.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Disagree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

The object consists of weekly units and lessons for a year-long algebra 1 course taught over the course of two 18-week semesters. The lessons themselves consist of links to various online resources providing instruction in the specific topics in the course schedule as well as online practice solving computational exercises associated with each lesson.

The course outline is comprehensive and demonstrates coverage of most content standards contained in CCSS for High School Mathematics. A few missing content standards primarily in Statistics could be easily addressed by adding relatively few additional lessons to cover this content.

Online direct Instructions given in individual lessons are clear enough that the target audience should be able to understand the concepts covered. The instruction, however, tends to be limited to methods of performing simple computational exercises in order to develop speed and fluency. The object is weak on making connections between associated topics and instruction tends to be limited to simply showing students how to perform simple algorithms without deeper conceptual understanding.

The major area where revision is needed is in addressing the CCSS standards for mathematical practice as well as providing instructional units and assessments that demand rigor and provide coherence and focus on key CCSS standards for mathematical practice.

Assessments are also limited to assessing student fluency in performing computations or following simple algorithms to solve exercises. There is limited variety in assessments and no answer keys or scoring rubrics are provided.

The object also provides limited opportunities for students to communicate understanding or to engage in abstract problem solving that allows multiple representations of problems or multiple methods of solving mathematical problems. There are few, if any, opportunities in the lessons for students to engage in critical thinking or to critique the reasoning of others.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Disagree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

Focus - The curriculum covers many of the necessary CCSS-M topics. As those topics are covered, however, little time is spent on communicating reasoning or drawing out any of the SMPs. Most lessons contain a “learn” component where new material is presented and a “watch” component where more complex problems are analyzed step by step. The first two units contain only pre-requisite skills (fractions, decimals, percents). No exponential functions are included.

Coherence – Students are not posed with problems that are challenging enough. When problems are addressed the technological component of the curriculum does not require students to show work and communicate reasoning. More connections could be made to previous learning of material (i.e. connecting solving systems by graphing to solving by substitution in unit 4). Opportunities are missed to make connections across learning progressions (i.e. arithmetic sequences to linear functions).

Rigor - The curriculum appears to be designed for independent learning and this makes it difficult to address some of the practices (especially SMPs 1, 3, and 4). No application or modeling tasks are included in the curriculum. More open ended questions are needed.

The technological component is well integrated into this curriculum to keep things interactive and provide students with feedback on their learning. New concepts and procedures are introduced using auditory and visual techniques that cater to multiple learning styles for students.

There are no extra supports or extensions for learners working above or below grade level.

No flexible grouping or pair-share activities are included.

Exercises are included but not enough to lead to mastery of skills.

Students are not asked to communicate their understanding and reasoning. More open ended practice problems and tasks would need to be included to address SMPs and assess conceptual understanding. Moderate revision would be necessary to create conceptual depth and a platform for students to communicate their mathematical thinking.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Disagree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

Overall, I was not impressed with the Utah curriculum. Several weeks were spent on below grade level material in the guise of a Pre-Algebra review. The particular unit we looked into more deeply – Unit 4: Systems of Equations and Inequalities – gave the basics in procedures and skills, but that is all. Each lesson in the unit consisted of an NROC unit (5 warm-up questions and an interactive lesson) and a video. The NROC pieces were nice, but all pieces were not utilized in this program. For example, the problem-solving piece at the end of the NROC lesson was often left out of the Utah curriculum. The biggest issue I had with the NROC series itself was that it moves on even if all your answers are incorrect. It does give hints when you give an incorrect answer, but if a student is missing everything, they are probably not going to get much out of the hints.

The only activity that wasn’t an NROC lesson or video came in Lesson 4.8 (More Solving Systems of Inequalities). This was an Explore activity. The site itself looked like it had promise, but there were no directions on what to do at the website. I’m sure we didn’t get a good look at the curriculum because neither the Practice problems nor the Assessment pieces were available for review. The Standards for Mathematical Practice were never mentioned and they are an integral part of the new CCSS. I would not use this curriculum in my classroom, even for a struggling student.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Strongly Disagree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.