We’ve been working and learning with districts over the past few years to capture best practices for making curriculum adoption decisions. One of the biggest challenges for districts actually comes at the very beginning of the adoption process. Once you know that you’re going to select materials, it is very tempting to immediately order samples, open them up, and start making judgements. Once you start looking at materials, it is very difficult to go back and apply new criteria. After you open the books, people will have naturally started to love or dismiss materials. Adding new criteria or taking options off the table can unintentionally foster mistrust and ill-will within the decision-making process.
One successful practice we’ve seen is to first capture and analyze information about the district, then set goals, and only then start digging through materials. Our Knowing Your Starting Point Data Inventory is a sampling of questions that are important for districts to know the answers to before starting the adoption process.
Asking yourself these questions will help to identify which stakeholders need to be involved in the process, determine communications plans, and set criteria for choosing materials. You may also find some questions that are missing. Please let us know if you have additions to the list, and be sure to check out our 8-step adoption process for guidance.