Selecting for Quality: 6 Key Adoption Steps


Less than 20% of the materials in use in classrooms are aligned to standards.

All students deserve high-quality materials. Less than 20 percent of the materials in use in classrooms are aligned to standards.

What you select and how you select matters. Schools and districts have more options than ever from which to find high-quality materials that meet their local priorities. The selection process is a critical lever for ensuring that quality materials are adopted and then used well in classrooms. Current adoption practices are simply not good enough.

We believe that:

  • Selecting materials is a decision worthy of study and prioritization
  • Local context and instructional vision should drive decision-making
  • Educator voice and expertise must be at the center of the decision
  • Materials should be aligned to high standards, attend to instructional shifts and be based on research
  • Professional learning and implementation needs to be considered from the beginning of selection processes.

We work with teams across the country to implement the steps below, improve their selection processes, and find the right materials for their students and teachers. Explore our case studies to see how different districts have applied these key steps. Additional activities, resources, and protocols we use with teams are embedded within the steps for you to use or adapt within your own process.

We’ve also collected resources and best practices from these districts and included them here for your inspiration. We will be adding to this collection on a regular basis.

Contact us if you would like to share a best practice from a recent adoption process or consult with one of our experts as you plan your next instructional materials selection,

contact@edreports.org.

Adopting Materials During the COVID-19 Crisis: To support educators in their planning during the COVID-19 pandemic, EdReports has created a collection of resources to advocate for and guide decision making around the use of high-quality instructional materials. Explore this resource >

6 Key Adoption Steps

PREPARE

1.

Develop Your District Lens

Examine your data and local context in order to establish priorities for considering new instructional materials. 

1.

Analyze your current state: consider data (e.g., student, teacher, system), key initiatives, and adoption requirements set forth in school or state board policies (e.g., RFP procedures, procurement requirements).

2.

Establish or communicate an instructional vision for the content area of your adoption to guide the process. An instructional vision is a general description of instructional aspirations and articulates the way districts see teaching and learning for the content.

3.

Codify your district priorities and additional review criteria: using the knowledge of your current state, establish additional criteria (beyond alignment to standards and instructional shifts) that align with your instructional vision and support the needs of your local community.

4.

Develop goals and a theory of change for the adoption; prepare to articulate the purpose and goal for new materials.

Reflection Questions

It’s important to reflect on your process so far before moving to the next step. Use these reflection questions as a guide.

Data Collection Tool: A Resource to Support Your Materials Adoption Process

By reviewing district data, you are grounding the upcoming work in your district’s unique context which will inform the decision-making for all of your stakeholders.

Sample Instructional Vision Statements

An instructional vision articulates what teaching and learning should look like in a particular content area. Read examples from real districts.

Materials Adoption 101: Engage Educators Upfront

Educator Shannah Estep offers advice for districts about how to engage educators during the instructional materials adoption process.

Making a Great Adoption Decision

Educator Shannah Estep shares three tips that will set your adoption process on the right track and guide you in your quest for high-quality, aligned instructional materials.

3 Ways a Small District Can Harness the Power of EdReports.org

Educator Jennifer Johnson offers advice to small school districts about how to use EdReports reviews to increase capacity and adopt high-quality instructional materials. 

An Introduction to EdReports

Meet the reviewers and staff of EdReports! Learn what we do and why we're committed to ensuring all students have access to high-quality instructional materials.

Building Capacity and Consensus Through a Teacher-Led Materials Adoption

Read about the challenges Newport-Mesa Unified School district faced, the important steps they took to ensure success, and the role EdReports played in their journey of instructional materials adoption.   

Using EdReports Reviews to Support an Educator-Led Adoption Process

Read one superintendents' story about using free EdReports.org reviews to improve his district's selection process.  

COVID-19 Response

Adopting Materials for Hybrid and Remote Settings: Know Your Technology Needs Upfront

As districts launch adoption processes amidst the urgent need to find new ways to reach and teach students, technological capabilities have become a crucial consideration for new materials.    

PREPARE

2.

Establish Your Process

Gather a committee and set guidelines for the adoption process.

1.

If not previously established, assemble an adoption committee composed of a variety of stakeholders, including teachers and school leaders.

2.

Create a timeline and milestones that extend from adoption through launch.

3.

Define the parameters of your adoption (e.g., budget, timing, decision-making process, tech needs).

4.

Engage your committee in appropriate professional learning in order to prepare for your investigation of the materials (includes standards and shifts as well as “why materials matter”).

Reflection Questions

It’s important to reflect on your process so far before moving to the next step. Use these reflection questions as a guide.

Adoption Committee Recommendations

Bringing together a collaborative team of educators in an adoption committee is an essential component of your adoption process.

Redefining Engagement: How Baltimore City Public Schools Transformed its Approach to Adopting Instructional Materials

Read one district's story about the power and lasting impact that comes with involving educators and the community at every step of the materials selection process.

Materials Adoption 101: Engage Educators Upfront

Educator Shannah Estep offers advice for districts about how to engage educators during the instructional materials adoption process.

STUDY

3.

Know and Winnow Your Choices

Understand the market and work toward identifying a subset of programs that can be deeply investigated.

1.

Learn about the available programs in your grade and content area using EdReports.org.

2.

Conduct initial research (online, telephone, email). 

  •  Use the EdReports compare feature and read reports to learn more about how well materials meet expectations for alignment and other characteristics of quality. 
  •  Contact other districts or experts to gather anecdotal information about programs.

3.

Apply your district lens to this research and decide which 2-4 programs you plan to  study more deeply.

*note: we recommend steps 1-3 happen before you dive into any materials or engage more deeply with publishers.

Reflection Questions

It’s important to reflect on your process so far before moving to the next step. Use these reflection questions as a guide.

Guiding Questions for Winnowing Instructional Materials Under Consideration

One of the most important steps in the adoption process is to winnow the field to a manageable number of programs so that committees can review each potential set of materials in depth.

Compare Materials: 3 Tips for Instructional Materials Adoption Committees

Explore the EdReports compare tool to learn more about the quality of instructional materials and help support your adoption process. 

Compare Materials Tool: 3 Tips for District Leaders

Explore the EdReports compare tool as a resource to support you throughout your district's materials adoption process.

Using EdReports Reviews to Support an Educator-Led Adoption Process

Read one superintendents' story about using free EdReports.org reviews to improve his district's selection process.  

Adopting New Curriculum? 3 Ways to Narrow Your Options

Check out EdReports new video to learn more about how to find aligned curriculum, narrow your options, and ensure you choose the best program for your district.

STUDY

4.

Investigate the Materials

Engage in a thorough, hands-on study of the 2-4 high-quality programs you’ve selected.

1.

Establish the structure and process for this next phase of research, which focuses on deep study of each of the programs you’re considering. Start by asking yourselves: 1) what do we want to learn about how the materials address our priorities and 2) what is the best way to learn this?

2.

Reach out to publishers to request samples of the materials and set up future presentations. Use the time with publishers to have them answer questions the committee has developed that specifically address your local priorities, as well as to discuss strengths and gaps identified in the reports. *note: you may end up winnowing your list to an even smaller number after speaking with the publisher representatives.

3.

Determine what kind of professional learning will be needed for those engaged in investigating the materials. For example, if you are piloting to learn about the time it takes to teach a full lesson, the professional learning needed from the publisher might simply be to walk through the lesson “must-dos” and “may-dos”.

Reflection Questions

It’s important to reflect on your process so far before moving to the next step. Use these reflection questions as a guide.

4 Ways to Investigate Instructional Materials Under Consideration

One of the most critical components of a strong adoption process is taking the time to deeply investigate your options. This resource provides your team with a variety of approaches to investigate the programs after you have winnowed your list of options. 

Lessons from the Field: Best Practices for Piloting Curriculum

Learn more from districts and educator leaders about key steps to take if you are considering piloting potential new materials.

Big Changes in Rural Wisconsin: Improving the Instructional Materials Selection Process

Read the story of a group of rural districts in Wisconsin that came together to strategically engage publishers and develop a new materials adoption culture.

The Power of Engaging All Educators During an Instructional Materials Adoption

Learn about how Fife Public Schools engaged educators and ensured teacher voice was integral to the district’s instructional materials adoption.

DECIDE + LAUNCH

5.

Make a Decision

Work with your committee to analyze evidence collected during the study and make a final selection 

1.

Examine the evidence collected from your investigation tied to the priorities/additional criteria you’ve established:

  • Compare the options - strengths and weaknesses
  • Analyze feedback from stakeholders
  • Asses what work you’ll need to engage in to implement each of your options and consider the implications on other initiatives or staff capacity

2.

Use your decision-making process to make a final selection.

3.

Develop communications that will share the decision and the expectations moving forward.

4.

Plan for the procurement and distribution of the materials

Reflection Questions

It’s important to reflect on your process so far before moving to the next step. Use these reflection questions as a guide.

Making Your Decision: A Resource to Support Your Materials Adoption Process

Read more about the resources, planning, and possible approaches to making a final materials adoption decision. 

The Case for Consensus

A school district uses consensus protocols to overcome divisions when selecting new materials.

DECIDE + LAUNCH

6.

Launch and Implement

Develop a plan to communicate with and prepare teachers and leaders to implement the materials and assess the progress of implementation.

1.

Create an on-going professional learning plan that includes “getting to know” the materials as well as sustained professional learning that directly focuses on how teachers will learn to teach using the new materials.

2.

Articulate plans for short-term and long-term activities to support implementation (e.g. teacher and leader professional learning, necessary adjustments to  district assessments, leadership walkthroughs to monitor implementation) and expectations for use.

3.

Establish additional feedback mechanisms so professional learning can be responsive to teachers’ needs and address concerns.

4.

Ensure there is a structure and adequate time for the district staff who will train and support teachers to learn the materials themselves.

5.

Include in your professional learning plans the specific training site leaders will need to support teachers with timely, appropriate feedback.

Reflection Questions

It’s important to reflect on your process so far before moving to the next step. Use these reflection questions as a guide.

Launch and Implementation Planning for Your Adoption Process

Getting high-quality materials into classrooms is just the first step toward improving student learning. This is why considering how you will launch and implement new materials is a critical aspect of your adoption process. 

Selecting Great Materials is Not Enough

Chief Strategy Officer, Lauren Weisskirk, shares a tale of two adoptions: one that planned a rollout for its new instructional materials and one that didn't. 

COVID-19 Response

7 Best Practices for Launching Curriculum During Interrupted Schooling

Game-changers educators should consider while rolling out new instructional materials whether students are learning in the classroom or learning remotely.

Refining your Implementation

Explore this interactive feature from CalCurriculum.org that helps educators to understand implementation through the lens of data, develop new supports grounded in local context, and leverage continuous improvement strategies to apply new implementation supports.

X