State Policies

Shift to Digital

In 2001 the Utah State Textbook Commission changed its name to the Utah State Instructional Materials Commission to reflect interest in emerging digital and multimedia formats for instructional materials. Since that time, Utah has been evaluating digital instructional materials through an annual review process.

Utah’s Instructional Materials Center recommends textbooks and other forms of curriculum to the Utah State Office of Education. Teachers meet to evaluate the available instruction materials, assessing strengths and weaknesses of the instructional materials, and to ensure that the state core curriculum is included in the materials. Instructional materials that meet at least 80 percent of the required curriculum and have no other major issues are placed on the state approved list.

In Utah, each school district has the constitutional authority to use digital resources and innovative educational technologies as they deem appropriate to meet educational goals and requirements. Districts may use allotted funds for the purchase of technology as determined by local boards of education. However, the state provides resources to support the district level decisions. Utah maintains the Recommended Instructional Materials System (RIMS), an online state database that educators can sort by publisher, subject, category, course, and adoption action, such as “Recommended Teacher Resource.” The state’s adoption process is to provide a general list of approved materials, but ultimate decision-making rests with local education agencies.

OER Initiative

Utah defines OER as materials that have been created using content that is not copyrighted and therefore restricted in use. OER are openly licensed materials that can be used for teaching, learning, student support, and teacher support. While they are openly licensed, they are not free: there is a substantial effort involved in collecting and reviewing resources to ensure that they are aligned to the Utah Core Standards and that they are updated and improved on a regular basis.

OER read more
In January 2012 the Utah Office of Education announced that it would support the development of “open textbooks” in key areas, including language arts, science, and math. In the first year, teachers’ grades 7-12 from all the core science subjects met for two days to create an initial textbook to target the state core curriculum. Teachers from twenty-three districts and seven charter schools contributed to the writing and creation of the state textbooks. Teachers used resources from CK-12 and  Thunderbolt Kids, as well as the science textbooks created by Nebo School District. In the second year, selected teachers revised the textbooks based on feedback from teachers to include some specific ELA strategies for vocabulary and reading. In the third year, teachers revised the textbooks again based on feedback from teachers, students and parents. Teachers worked to add links to appropriate online interactive materials to support learning objectives. The state textbooks are available in digital format under a creative commons license on the state OER website. The website also gives a link to order the books printed at less than $5 each. As of October, 30,000 state books printed with many more copies downloaded.

In the fall of 2012, the Office of Education encouraged districts and schools throughout the state to consider adopting the state developed OER textbooks. The decision to promote OER on such a broad scale comes after two years of a pilot project in creation and use of OER textbooks for science. The development of these textbooks was led by David Wiley, a faculty member in Brigham Young University’s School of Education. Each pilot was conducted by the Utah Open Textbook Project, a partnership involving BYU, Nebo School District, and the Office of Education.

  • The Utah Education Network is providing teachers, students, and parents with materials to support the Utah Core Standards, instruction, and teaching. Created by groups of content and teaching experts, including university faculty, district and school specialists, teachers, and USOE staff.
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