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Selecting Instructional Materials: A Guide for K-12 Science
Revise the tool and draft a guide of sequential steps and recommended processes.
Determine what information and resources would be most helpful to facilitators of the review, selection, and approval processes.
Field test at three sites with diverse needs and participants, varying the training approaches.
Gather data to be used in revising the guide and revise the tool as needed.
Conduct two focus groups.
Complete both the tool and the guide.
THE COMMITTEE'S PRELIMINARY REVIEW OF MATERIALS
The Committee reviewed a selection of science instructional materials in order to reach consensus on the challenges of developing a tool for evaluation and establish a framework for discourse. This exercise provided the context for designing early versions of the evaluation tool for use in initial field tests. The varied professional experiences of the Committee members (science teachers, scientists, science supervisors, and science curriculum designers) provided a rich mix of ideas. The discussion focused on the best way to obtain data on what students would learn in a classroom where the teacher uses the instructional material in question.
Committee members examined a range of life sciences materials. They discussed how to focus reviewer attention on the alignment of the material with content standards and on how well the material would support student learning of that content. For example, simply checking off whether a particular standard is "covered" does not provide useful information for making judgments about the likelihood of students learning the science content embodied in that standard. Judging the quality of the instructional design needs to be tied to the question of what students are likely to learn if the particular materials are used. It became clear that to obtain informative evaluations, reviewers also must first identify the set of science education standards for which the instructional material is to be examined and then evaluate it standard by standard. In addition, it would be important to obtain information on the extent of professional development required to achieve effective teaching with the materials and the cost of this teacher education process.