Identifying Which Materials the Selection Committee Will Review: 3 Powerful Strategies

In 5 Tips for Planning an Effective K-12 Curriculum Review and Adoption Process, we discussed the decisions you need to make when planning an instructional materials adoption process. For an adoption to be successful, the selection committee must have sufficient guidance and time to review materials effectively. With so many materials on the market, narrowing the list of materials for the selection committee to review is a critical next step in any adoption process. This blog will outline three strategies for identifying which materials the selection committee will review.

Develop a List of Available Materials

To begin this process, put together a list of the materials available for the content area(s) and grade levels for courses covered by the adoption. This can be an arduous process. The Learning List, a free, publicly available directory of more than 15,000 titles of PreK-12 instructional materials can save you hours of work. Some states require districts to select from a certain list of materials. District policy may also restrict the materials a district can consider.

Use the Non-Negotiables to Eliminate Materials from Consideration

Once you have aggregated a list of materials for the district’s consideration, use the list of the non-negotiables discussed in the prior blog post to eliminate materials that do not meet the district’s basic requirements for the adoption (i.e., the maximum price, the minimum standards-alignment percentage, the necessary supports for students or resources for teachers, etc…). The non-negotiables list can help eliminate many materials from consideration.

Distribute a Needs Assessment

Another critical strategy in identifying the materials most likely to meet the district’s needs is distributing a needs assessment to the relevant stakeholders.

What is a Needs Assessment?

A needs assessment is a survey for gathering feedback about the features stakeholders believe are necessary (i.e., “must haves”) in the new materials(s). Typically, a needs assessment contains a list of features likely to be found in materials for the grade level(s) and subject(s)/course(s) covered by the adoption. Respondents are asked to rank or rate the importance of having each feature in the new materials. This distinguishes the must-have features from the nice-to-have features.

What is the Purpose of a Needs Assessment?

Distributing a needs assessment gives stakeholders beyond the selection committee an opportunity to participate in the adoption process. Giving all stakeholders a voice in the process helps build support for and mitigate opposition to the materials that are ultimately adopted.

For the adoption of core materials, consider distributing the needs assessment to

  • All teachers who will be using the newly adopted material, including teachers who provide support services
  • All staff who will be supporting its implementation, such as instructional coaches and instructional technology staff
  • Parents
  • The community.*

A supplemental material will be used by fewer teachers and will impact fewer students than a core material. Therefore, when adopting supplemental materials, distributing the needs assessment to the teachers who will be using the materials and to the staff who will be supporting its implementation should suffice.

Once the respondents have submitted their completed needs assessment, the person running the adoption should aggregate the needs assessment responses to identify a single list of features stakeholders believe the new materials must have. This list should be used to eliminate more materials from the list under consideration so that only between three and five materials remain on the list of materials the selection committee will review. Having helped hundreds of districts with their adoptions over the last decade, we have observed that giving a selection committee more than five materials to review typically results in lower-quality reviews and/or the submission of fewer completed rubrics.

A district recently asked us whether they could distribute the needs assessment with the rubric. We explained that the needs assessment must be distributed before the rubric is distributed for the following reasons. The needs assessment should be distributed to many more stakeholders than just the selection committee members, whereas the rubric will only be distributed to the members of the selection committee. Moreover, the aggregated list of needs assessment must-haves should be used to customize the rubric the selection committee will use to review so that the rubric reflects the district’s priorities for the adoption. Customizing the rubric will be discussed in the next blog post.

Read our free, publicly available whitepaper titled, Guidance for Selecting or Curating High-Quality Instructional Resource, for more detailed information and step-by-step guidance for planning and implementing a K-12 curriculum review and adoption process efficiently and effectively.

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