Planning

  • Most districts maintain local control and select the instructional materials that best meet the needs of their students even in states with instructional materials adoption policies. Districts/schools should evaluate, adapt and develop quality course content and instructional materials aligned to standards on a regular basis. States with an instructional materials adoption process can be a resource for districts, which can be especially valuable in smaller districts that may lack the human capacity to conduct extensive reviews of materials. Effective planning is essential when selecting quality instructional materials aligned to standards, whether your state adopts resources as a service to districts or your district conducts the adoption process.  Planning also helps to ensure teachers and administrators are moving Beyond the Search Engine.

    Key Questions

    • What is the catalyst to select and adopt new instructional materials?
    • Are you planning to select a new core full course curriculum for a specific content area?
    • Are you considering implementing supplemental materials to support current core materials?
    • Are you implementing digital instructional materials?
    • Beyond alignment to learning standards, what other quality criteria will you use?

     

  • Quality Materials

    Many factors contribute to quality instructional materials. Though definitions may vary somewhat from one professional organization to the next, all agree that quality materials should be robust materials aligned to learning standards regardless of whether the materials are print or digital, full course materials or supplemental materials, open or all rights reserved copyright.

    SETDA Criteria

    Quality instructional materials are content-rich materials aligned to standards that are fully accessible and free from bias. They support sound pedagogy and balanced assessment to help teachers understand and interpret student performance.

    Quality Instructional Materials must be:

    • Aligned to state, district, and building learning standards as measured by widely-accepted evaluation tools.
    • Current, relevant, and accurate content that is user friendly, fully accessible for all learners, and free from bias.

    Full-course, core instructional material should:

    • Emphasize the key areas of focus within each course, addressing the progression of learning skills, and vertically articulating content with other courses to ensure coherence.
    • Support differentiated learning behaviors and include resources for students who struggle and opportunities for students to be challenged.
    • Include a balanced assessment strategy to help teachers understand and interpret student performance.
    • Incorporate technology, where appropriate, that supports quality teaching and learning.

    Criteria from Other Organizations

    State Definitions
    Association of American Publishers
    EdReports
    Open Up
    State Instructional Materials Association
    School District of Middletown

  • Curriculum Standards

    In most states academic/curriculum standards are managed in a spreadsheet, word document, pdf, or other manual tool.  The lack of machine-readable standards makes it difficult for districts in those states to align digital content and assessments to state curriculum learning standards in digital learning tools.  The effort and cost required to maintain alignments significantly limits the ability to effectively share digital resources aligned to standards between education entities in the state.

    Additionally, the use of high quality digital content across states present significant challenges. Districts from other states cannot utilize digital content if there is not a curriculum standards crosswalk that aligns content to academic standards. Teachers from other states cannot easily use a resource as a primary instructional tool if the curriculum standards are not clearly defined in that resource.

  • Federal Policy

    Although state education leaders have advocated for digital and blended learning environments for many years, for the first time, national legislation defines digital learning and blended learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

    Digital Learning
    “Any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience and encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and practices.”

    Blended Learning
    “A formal education program that leverages both technology-based and face-to-face instructional approaches”

    As evidenced in ESSA, national leaders are recognizing the benefits of digital instructional materials and resources to support student learning. Technology is no longer a compartmentalized component of the law, as it was in NCLB’s Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) grant program, which was curtailed in 2011. Instead, technology is woven throughout the legislation, including assessment, accountability and school improvement. The Center for Digital Education’s Guide ESSA, EdTech and the Future of Education policy handbook provides insight into the changes in ESSA related to technology. ESSA supports professional development and capacity building for technology, encourages the use of technology in comprehensive approaches to teaching and learning, and provides states and districts with the flexibility to include technology in a range of initiatives. The National Education Technology Plan (NETP) calls for a “revolutionary transformation rather than evolutionary tinkering” in education and recognizes that we must leverage technology to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences for all students.

  • State Policies & Practices

    With the shift to digital instructional materials, a plurality of states have statutes that either require or allow the implementation of digital instructional materials for students learning. Currently, six states require the implementation of digital instructional materials, with 30 states indicating that they allow the implementation of digital instructional materials.

    Adoption Policy

    Currently, twenty-four states have a state statute for the adoption of instructional materials. States may adopt materials for all grade levels and content areas or only specific grade levels and content areas. Even in states with instructional materials adoption policies, most districts maintain local control and select the instructional materials that best meet the needs of their students. The state adoption process is a resource for districts, which can be especially valuable in smaller districts that may lack the human capacity to conduct extensive reviews of materials.

    As you begin your planning process, determine what state policies and practices and state learning standards govern the selection of instructional materials. SETDA’s Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS) is an excellent resource to find out about policies in your state.

    Key Questions

    • What is your adoption policy for textbooks?
    • What is your adoption policy for digital instructional materials?
    • What are the requirements for digital instructional materials implementation?
    • Do you have policies about OER?
    • Do you have legislated subject area instruction?
    • Do you have specific accessibility policies or requirements?
    • Do you have bias and sensitivity review requirements?
    • What are your targeted learning standards?
    • What are your recommended frameworks for the subject areas under consideration.
    • Navigating the Digital Shift 2018

      With the transformation to digital learning, more and more states are enacting policies and guidelines to support the implementation and utilization of digital instructional materials, applications and resources. This publication highlights how state policies and guidance are supporting the transformation to digital learning, specifically the policies and processes around the selection, curation, procurement and funding of digital instructional materials.

      • Topic Area:
      • Implementation
      • Overview Quality
      • Planning
      • Selection

      View Resource

    • State Procurement Case Studies

      Developed in collaboration with state and district digital learning leaders, instructional materials directors, procurement offices and academic officers, this publication highlights state level procurement case studies that share how states have effectively established and implemented policies for the procurement of high quality instructional materials and devices.

      • Topic Area:
      • Budget

      View Resource

  • Policy Recommendations

    As digital content nears the tipping point into mainstream adoption and use, states and districts must plan for and invest in updated and improved systems for the quality assessment of instructional materials.

    Adapted from: Ensuring the Quality of Digital Content for Learning

  • Traditional approaches for assuring the quality of print textbooks and other full-course instructional materials typically involve significant work over many months, using a variety of established standards and measures, with formal systems of peer review and expert assessment.

    Key Steps

    1. Establish Adoption Cycle: The State Board of Education, or designated entity, creates an adoption cycle for subjects in the state’s core curriculum to ensure that they are reviewed periodically (usually over a defined period of years).
    2. State Proclamation/Call for New Materials: The State Board of Education, or designated entity, publishes a request for standards-aligned, accurate materials in a given subject and grade level (with given specifications, including for example, accessibility requirements).
    3. Bidders Conference: Interested parties convene for a question and answer session about the proclamation’s focus and requirements.
    4. Initial Materials Development and Submission: Publishers create materials consistent with the proclamation’s requirements and submit them to the state agency.
    5. Expert Panel Review: The state agency identies expert educators from across the state in the relevant subject area at issue in the proclamation to serve on a review committee. They analyze the material for alignment to state standards and identify factual errors. After an initial period of independent review, experts are convened to make consensus decisions about whether the content meets the state’s needs or falls short in certain areas, and to identify further questions for the publishers.
    6. Publishers’ Response and Committee Recommendation: Publishers respond to the review committee’s questions and requirements. If the committee accepts the publisher’s response, it will recommend that the State Board of Education or relevant authority put the material on the state approved content list.
    7. Public Comment and Action: The State Board (or other entity) considers the committee’s recommendation, including inviting public input, and then adopts or rejects the content.

    This approach, and the quality assurance process timeline, varies somewhat state-by-state, but this model’s core elements appear in most jurisdictions.

    Reference: Ensuring the Quality of Digital Content for Learning

  • District & School Policies

    After reviewing your state policies and procedures, you need to review your district/school policies.

    Key Questions

    • Does your district/school have a definition for instructional materials?
    • Does your district/school have a definition for digital instructional materials?
    • Does your district/school have a definition for OER?
    • Does your district/school have policies guiding selection and adoption of instructional materials?
    • Does your district/school have procurement requirements for instructional materials?
    • Are policies different for core materials versus supplemental materials?
    • How are you funding the acquisition of instructional materials?
  • Stakeholders

    When reviewing instructional materials, it is important to identify the stakeholders. The type of materials (core vs supplemental), the size of the district or school and your district policy will impact the stakeholders that may be included in the process. In reviewing instructional materials, consider including some or all of the following stakeholders in the review process:

    Core Instructional Materials

    • School boards
    • Administrators
    • Teachers
    • Librarians
    • Technology specialists
    • Students
    • Parents
    • Community organizations (museums, afterschool programs)
    • Business partners

    Supplemental

    • Principal or designee
    • Teachers
    • Technology specialists
    • Family Support Toolkit Library – Louisiana

      Resources for parents to understand the LEAP assessment results and report cards and how those results will be used to make adjustments to instruction to meet individual student needs this school year. The list of questions is not exhaustive, but reflects evidence-based answers to questions that parents have frequently asked about the statewide assessment results.

      • Topic Area:

      View Resource

  • Educational Goals

    Once you have reviewed your state and local policies for instructional materials implementation, and identified the key stakeholders involved in the process, understand the educational goals for your district/school.

    Student Learning Goals

    • Review and understand the target learning standards or recommended frameworks for each content area.
    • Define the learning behaviors your district has defined as important and that instructional materials need to support it.
    • Clarify any district instructional materials goals and priorities in the target subject area.
    • Does your district focus on:
      • deeper learning?
      • self-directed learning?
      • personalized learning?

    Professional Learning Goals

    • Define the teaching behaviors your district has defined as important and that instructional materials need to support.
    • Are the instructional materials supporting teachers’ abilities to personalize learning?
    • Assess the capacity to provide professional learning opportunities.
    • Do you provide professional learning strategies for implementation of digital 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?
      • Beyond alignment to state learning standards, what other quality criteria should be considered?
      • What should be avoided?
      • What is the catalyst to select and adopt new instructional materials?
      • Ensure that the new materials add value.
      • Is your district/school using digital instructional materials?
      • What is the technology capacity to deliver content.
        • Internet access at school
        • Wi-Fi access at school
        • Student access to devices
        • Student access to internet and devices outside of school
  • This pages includes various resources for leaders that would like to share this work via presentations, workshops or via online communities. SETDA encourages leaders to reuse and remix these resources to best support your work.

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