• There’s a growing body of research finding that instructional materials can have as large an impact on student outcomes as teacher quality or reduced class size. Developing a process for the examples_blue_150x129.2selection and implementation of quality instructional materials is more important than ever with the growing number of available resources for both core courses and supplemental materials. This section provides guidance and best practices for selecting quality instructional materials, aligned to standards for both core curriculum and supplemental materials.

    Key Considerations

  • Examples

    SETDA researched and interviewed state and district leaders to learn more about the process for selecting quality instructional materials. The following examples describe the selection process, including review team selection; compensation/ benefits for review team; review process and training of reviewers; tools used in the review process; and the platform hosting approved instructional materials.

    State Examples Chart



    Visit the State Examples Chart webpage to see a summary of state vetting processes.


    Detailed Examples




    Grossmont Union High School District
    Lawrence Unified School District
  • Assemble instructional materials review teams to review existing instructional materials to determine if existing instructional materials are out-of-date, not aligned with standards, and/or ineffective tools for students and teachers.

    Review teams will review both both core and supplemental materials and determine whether the content area requires a full core course replacement and/or supplemental materials to support the core materials.

    Key Questions

    • Are there different review teams based on:
      • Content area?
      • Core versus supplemental materials?
    • What common expertise should team members have?
    • What specific skills are needed?

    Sample Review Team

    • Content Expertise (teachers, curriculum directors, content coaches)
      • Evaluation of alignment to learning standards, effectiveness
    • Technology Expertise (educational technology directors, technology specialists, digital resource managers, librarians)
      • Digital requirements, access, security and student privacy issues
    • Administrative Expertise (School board members, principals, assistant superintendents, superintendents)
      • Professional development capacity, accessibility, state/district policies
    • Curation Expertise (teachers, librarians)
      • Permitted usage, attribution, resource organization
    • Community Expertise (students, parents, museums, afterschool programs)
      • Ease of use, internet access, access outside of school
  • After preliminary planning, a thorough review of existing course content by stakeholders will identify the gap between where the district/school is currently and where they need to be in order to meet state and district goals. Districts should continuously evaluate instructional materials for effectiveness and use, and replace content that is not impacting student learning. This process will determine the level of instructional materials improvement and other supports and strategies needed.

    Understand Where You Are

    • Determine if your instructional materials for courses across the spectrum — from supplemental resources to core instructional material meet student needs.
    • Determine if current core instructional materials are aligned to state learning standards by using:
      • Widely recognized rubrics for the evaluation of instructional materials
      • Trusted reviews from external organizations, state agencies, or school districts,
    • Identify existing core curriculum strengths and challenges based on district/building data
      • test scores
      • classroom practice
      • student work
      • teacher reflection
    • Identify existing supplemental materials strengths and challenges based on:
      • classroom practice
      • student work
      • teacher reflection
    • Examine current content delivery methods
      • Traditional – print materials only.
      • Blended – digital and print materials,
      • Online – online classes
  • When existing instructional materials are out-of-date, not aligned with standards, and ineffective tools for students and teachers, educators should consider selecting new instructional materials. Options may include a full core course replacement for a specific content area or supplemental materials to support the core materials. Once the review team establishes the type of instructional materials and content areas to adopt, the team determines what types of rubrics and tools they will use to make these decisions.

    Activities allow for a variety of methods to be employed — alternatives to text/ pen/pencil/mouse, flipped lessons, labs, simulations, SMART notebook, small group with teacher, etc.
    – Lawrence Public Schools Master Rubric

    Key Questions

    • What is the catalyst to select and adopt new instructional materials?
    • Are you planning to select a new core curriculum for a specific content area?
    • Are you considering implementing supplemental materials to support current materials?
    • Are you implementing digital instructional materials?
    • Beyond alignment to learning standards, what other quality criteria should be considered?
  • When selecting new instructional materials, options may include a full core course replacement for a specific content area or supplemental materials to support the core materials. Reviewers should consider the rubrics and tools used as they may differ depending upon whether it is a course re-design or the selection of supplemental materials

    Key Questions

    • Are you planning to select a new core curriculum for a specific content area?
    • Are you considering implementing supplemental materials to support current materials?
    • Are you implementing digital instructional materials?

    Core Instructional Materials Resources

    Supplemental Instructional Materials Resources

  • Rubrics

    This section highlights various rubrics used by states, districts, and schools for the evaluation instructional materials.

    screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-12-18-28-pmRubrics: Align to the Common Core State Standards, Tools for evaluating the alignment of instructional and assessment materials to the Common Core State Standards.



    Achieve OER Rubrics developed eight rubrics to evaluate the quality of instructional resources.

    EQuIP rubrics evaluate lessons that include instructional activities and assessments aligned to the CCSS or the NGSS that may extend over a few class periods or days and units that include integrated and focused lessons aligned to the CCSS or the NGSS that extend over a longer period of time.


    SpotOn RubricSpotOn logo can be applied to eight digital product types including core, non-core, units, lessons, games, apps, and adaptive resources.


    utah_smallInstructional Materials Center includes rubrics developed by state curriculum specialists in cooperation with subject area specialists in districts and schools across the state.



    LA Online Instructional Materials Reviews Resources include rubrics by subject area.


    washington_smallWashington State: Quality Review Rubric for Social Studies Lessons and Units

    Washington State: Curricular Implementation Rubric for Lessons, Units, & Curricula

    Washington State: Technology Rubric for Lessons & Units & Curriculum

  • Tools

    This section highlights various tools used by states, districts, and schools for the evaluation of technology tools and instructional materials.

    National Tools

    digital promise logo


    Digital Promise DCPS Sample Product Evaluation Rubric. This rubric helps compare different technology products to make curricular decisions.


    Ed Surge Product IndexEdSurge  This community-driven database includes recommendations from teachers on educational technology products. Educators can search for products by category, grade level, curriculum type, technology requirements and cost.

    Educational Technology Rapid Cycle Evaluationsscreen-shot-2016-11-18-at-11-14-31-am helps educators make evidence based decisions on acquiring digital tools/applications. Tools will help educators design and conduct evaluations and pilot tests.

    National Standards for Quality Online Coursesinacol. iNACOL shares a rubric, developed by the Texas Education Agency’s Texas Virtual School Network for assisting in the review of online courses.

    PrintIMET is a tool for evaluating textbooks for alignment to the shifts and major features of the Common Core State Standards. It is a tool within the Materials Alignment Toolkit


    SIMRA10 Common Criteria for Evaluation of Instructional Materials. SIMRA presents the 10 common criteria for the evaluation of
    instructional materials.


    TEC TEC Data Platform is an online library of edtech market pricing data specifically developed for school districts. TEC worked with Lea(R)n, using LearnPlatform as the unified edtech management ecosystem that allows for the collection and analysis of district technology contracts. The platform allows member districts to access price reports on the products they are considering for first-time purchase or renewal.

    State Tools

    ALEX Lesson Plan Criteria Checklist includes five criteria for reviewing lesson plans: aignment to CCRS/CoS; focus/shifts of the CCRS/CoS; instructional supports; assessment; and format and technical logistics.

    Florida School Boards Association EdCred is a K-12 rating and review platform that empowers decision makers across Florida to fully vet K-12 products and services.

    Louisiana Assurance of Accessibility Standards Checklist

  • Repositories

    Another option for selecting and adopting instructional materials is to consider materials vetted by external organizations or other state/district repositories, instead of conducting rigorous internal reviews of instructional materials. States and organizations that host a resource repository of approved instructional materials have a process for selecting and approving these materials. The process often involves reviews by various content experts to ensure alignment to standards, accessibility and support of learning behaviors, such as deeper learning.

    With any adoption of instructional materials, whether purchased or free, internally or externally reviewed, educators should ensure that the instructional materials align to standards, address educational goals and are accessible across the widest possible range of students, including those with disabilities.



    Bookshare: A Benetech Initiative. Bookshare® is an accessible online library for people with print disabilities.



    CK-12 Foundation produces free and open source K-12 materials aligned to state standards. All textbooks—called “flexbooks”— available through CK-12 are free, available online, and customizable.



    DMAPS is an interactive website that identifies states with digital learning repositories and links to the state repositories. Users can also compare states and download data.

    EdReportsEdReports publishes free reviews of instructional materials, using an educator-designed tool that measures alignment, usability, and other quality criteria. Current reviews include core instructional materials for K-8 Mathematics and 3-8 English Language Arts.



    EQuIP Exemplars provides a list of instructional material reviewed by the EQuIP Peer Review Panel including exemplar units from the EQuIP Call to Action.


    CommonSense_graphite-manual-logo[5]Graphite. Common Sense Media’s Graphite combines ratings from educators with reviews from its own expert team of reviewers. Graphite’s reviewers evaluate each tool using a research-based, 15-point rubric to assess each tool’s engagement, pedagogy, and support.

    learningregistryLearning Registry. The learning registry shares data about learning resources available online so that it will be easier for teachers and students to assess digital instructional materials.

    OER Commons


    OER Commons is a digital library and network. Users can access open education resources and join the network of educators dedicated to curriculum improvement.


    Open-Up ResourcesOpen Up provides an openly licensed (CC BY) middle school math curriculum, closely aligned to standards, and accessible to all students, regardless of language or special needs. 

    OpenStaxOpenStax develops open source textbooks for AP and college courses. These textbooks are written by professional content developers and peer reviewed by experts. OpenStax textbooks are free and openly licensed.

    SmarterBalancedAssessmentSmarter Balanced Digital Library The Digital Library provides subject- and grade-specific resources to help educators apply formative assessments during daily instruction. The Digital Library allows users to rate materials and share their expertise with educators across the country.

  • After instructional materials are approved, states, districts and schools need to curate those vetted materials. Key considerations include options for hosting the instructional materials content and packaging the content.

    Options for Hosting Instructional Materials Content

    Key Considerations for Packaging Instructional Materials

    • Easily accessible for teachers
    • Useful to teachers
    • Searchable by content area, standard, or grade
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