November 8, 2017

Selecting instructional materials is one of the most critical decisions a district will make. Finding materials that are aligned to college- and -career ready standards and meet the needs of your district can be overwhelming, particularly when examining a crowded marketplace. By committing to a clear, comprehensive process like the one out-lined below, districts can invest time upfront to save time later, maximize choice, and choose the best materials for their students.

Follow these eight steps to plan an effective adoption process that saves time, engages educators, and maximizes choice.

  1. Know Your District Needs. Consider the questions laid out in this  Knowing Your Starting Point Data Inventory before digging into curricular options. Understanding your district’s needs is the foundational first step to being able to address those needs with a strategic, effective approach.
  2. Identify district priorities, parameters, and a decision-making process. Ensure you understand the the primary and secondary goals of this curriculum/program adoption whether it’s to build capacity at the school and district levels, to revamp instructional programming, or a separate goal all together. It is also important to consider what the budget is for the process, as well as funding for supplementary materials, and educator training and support. Finally, don’t forget to consider how decisions will be made.
  3. Engage educators early and often and clearly define roles for educators within the selection process. Develop a shared vocabulary and understanding of the characteristics of quality instructional materials. Develop a clear communication plan to update all educators in your district on your progress and goals, not just selection committee members.
  4. Engage community members. Curricular decisions affect the entire community, and engaging the school board, parent groups, unions, and other key stakeholders to provide input as the process unfolds will build support down the line.
  5. Winnow choices based on alignment to college and career-ready standards for ELA, math, and science materials. Identifying which materials are aligned to the standards is the best place to start with any adoption process. Gather evidence about materials and their alignment to rigorous standards from ELA, math, and science reviews.
  6. Apply Local Priorities. After you’ve winnowed the field, work with your committee to develop and apply a rubric for determining how well materials meet the local priorities outlined in Step 2. By this point, you know how well they meet the standards and shifts, and now you can focus on learning more about the local priorities through pilots or through professional learning communities' study of the materials.
  7. Make a Decision. Lead your team through a decision making process and prepare to share the data and how the process worked with your school board and the full education community.
  8. Create a Rollout and Implementation Plan. No materials will come off the shelf perfectly ready to meet your district’s needs. Map how materials need to be supplemented to become better aligned, what professional development your coaches, school leaders, and teachers will need, and how you will assess how well the materials are working over the next several years.