• 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.

    High quality digital instructional materials go beyond the digital textbook to include video, audio, animation, simulations, and interactive applications that are aligned to standards, address educational goals and are accessible for all students.

    • Print

      Choosing Quality Classroom Materials for K-12

      AAP and SIIA produced this document to help states, districts and individual schools ensure that teachers and students have access to a wide range of high-quality instructional materials.

      • Topic Area:
      • Planning
      • Selection

      View Resource

    • Nav_Shift_social_media

      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
      • Planning
      • Quality
      • Selection

      View Resource

    • CCSSO logo

      Navigating the New Curriculum Landscape

      This paper discusses specific work states are undertaking around openly-licensed curricular resources, how states are supporting OER implementation, and what lessons can be learned.

      • Topic Area:
      • OER
      • Planning

      View Resource

    • Quality Content for Learning Resources

      AAP provides a checklist and quality assurance process for the selection of instructional materials.

      • Topic Area:
      • Planning
      • Selection

      View Resource

  • 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
  • Select Materials

    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?
    • Do you include accessibility for all students as part of your process?
  • Core vs Supplemental

    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. States often use common rubrics across subject areas to evaluate instructional materials. However, the academic standards within the rubric will differ depending upon the subject area.

    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

  • Internal vs External

    When selecting and adopting instructional materials, reviewers may conduct an internal review/vetting process or select materials that are already vetted by external organizations.


    For an internal review and selection process, states generally issue a request for proposal for the types of instructional materials to be reviewed during the current cycle. Publishers are invited to submit instructional materials. States assemble review teams and evaluated submitted materials using rubrics and tools.


    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.


    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?
    • Are you planning to conduct an internal review/vetting process?
    • Are you considering using materials that are already vetted by external organizations?


  • Digital vs Print

    States, districts, and schools purchase instructional materials in a variety of formats for instructional needs. Print materials, textbooks, workbooks and paper-based activities continue to be mainstream instructional materials in K12 education however, shifting to digital is a fast growing trend and often teacher and student resources are a blend of both print and digital. As schools and districts move towards student-centered, personalized learning approaches to increase student success — utilizing digital resources supports these deeper learning experiences. Digital materials can provide increased benefits via interactive functions that support differentiated learners and pique student interests.  Digital materials are often more flexible and portable than print content and can be more easily adapted to personalize learning experiences. Digital materials may include full course content, specific apps based on subject areas, online textbooks, and  simulations.

    Digital Material’s Unique Characteristics

    Digital materials provide many teaching and learning benefits to educators and students.

    • Opportunity for more rapid updates than traditional print materials
    • More easily adapted to address students’ learning differences and styles (with an appropriate license),
    • Interactive functions
    • Long-term storage of content
    • Inclusion of video and adaptive practice
    • Real-time assessments
    • encourage collaboration, co-creation

    Beyond the PDF – The shift to digital is not just a digital format of a textbook. Digital content should be interactive and engaging including features such as videos, practice activities, word banks, dictionaries, and note taking tools.

    • setda-logo

      Ensuring the Quality of Digital Content for Learning

      This position paper complements SETDA’s prior digital transition policy briefs by examining strategies for ensuring digital content quality, including exploration of the speci c quality-control challenges and opportunities associated with open educational resources (OER).

      • Topic Area:
      • Implementation
      • Planning
      • Resources
      • Selection

      View Resource

    • National Ed Tech Plan

      The National Education Technology Plan provides a vision of transformational learning experiences powered by technology.

      • Topic Area:
      • Budget
      • Implementation
      • Planning

      View Resource

    • DMAPS cove

      Navigating the Digital Shift

      This report provides details to help educate school and district administrators, policy makers and the private sector on the flexibility of state policies related to the procurement of digital instructional materials.

      • Topic Area:
      • Accessibility
      • Budget
      • Effectiveness
      • Implementation
      • OER
      • Planning
      • Resources
      • Selection

      View Resource

    • North Carolina Digital Learning Plan – Funding and Policy

      North Carolina makes recommendations for funding and policy as the state shifts to digital learning.

      • Topic Area:
      • Budget

      View Resource

  • State Subject Area Rubrics





    New Mexico

    New Mexico provides a list of adopted materials reviewed and scored by subject area.


    Oregon publishes criteria for review of instructional materials by subject area. Select criteria are identified below.


    Tennessee develops a screening instrument (rubric) for each content area, subject, and grade level.  The rubrics are approved by the state Textbook Commission. Select examples are below.


    Utah publishes rubrics by subject area. The rubrics focus on the core content for the designated course and address issues such as equity, material quality and construction, adherence to Utah law, and other appropriate issues.


  • National Tools & 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.


    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




    EQuIP Rubric: Science


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


    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 on this project.  The platform allows member districts to access price reports on the products they are considering for first-time purchase or renewal.

  • Curate Materials

    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


  • State Digital Repositories

    State digital learning repositories are one option for accessing curated instructional materials. States and districts 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 and support of learning behaviors, such as deeper learning. Teachers can be confident that they are accessing quality instructional materials that impact student learning.

    Repositories may include both copyrighted and open licensing materials. Resources can be purchased, free, or open educational resources that can be modified and remixed. In some cases, states require state credentials for access even if the resources are free. Some states manage their own repositories, other states partner with other education stakeholders or contract out for these services.

    Learn more about state digital repositories

    A few examples of how states host and/or manage digital learning repositories are listed below:

    • Iowa’s AEA Learning Online’s K-12 Online resources include both facilitated and personalized learning options for students. Schools and teachers have access to an e-learning platform and e-curriculum catalog.
    • Alaska, Oregon and Washington educators can access the Northwest Textbook Depository, managed by an independent contractor, that offers a large selection of instructional materials at negotiated pricing rates.
    • Colorado District Sample Curriculum Project, managed by the Colorado Department of Education’s Standards and Instruction Unit, provides educators with access to standards-based projects.
    • New Hampshire Educators Online provides digital and online educational and instructional resources.
    • Texas Gateway, a public, open interface accessible by all Texas teachers, parents and students. The Texas Gateway contains online resources for the classroom that are aligned to the state standards and designed for general instruction, intervention, acceleration and additional practice. It also contains professional development resources for teachers.
    • West Virginia Learns, a content management system which is available to all schools and districts.
  • Digital Repositories

    Digital repositories are one option for accessing curated instructional materials. These repositories offer states, districts and schools options for accessing high quality instructional materials.



    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.

©2019 SETDA, All Rights Reserved Privacy Policy