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Selecting Instructional Materials: A Guide for K-12 Science
community support for the science education program, which in turn can promote acceptance of recommended instructional materials.
Since education in the United States is controlled at the local level, in many instances evaluators will need to use their local or state standards rather than the Standards or Benchmarks. The Committee at first considered producing a tool that encouraged selection of material aligned with national standards. However, it realized that a tool that is applicable to local standards would be more widely used and would foster the understanding of standards and encourage their use. The Committee therefore resolved to make a flexible tool that could be used with any standards and in many situations including the review of a whole instructional program, a series of units, or individual units of instruction.
3. An evaluation process should require reviewers to provide evidence to support their judgments about the potential of the instructional materials to result in student learning. Other review tools designed for use in limited time periods commonly use a checklist of items for consideration, a numerical scale, and weighted averages of the numerical evaluations. Use of such tools can result in a superficial evaluation of a set of materials that may identify the content standards covered, but fail to indicate whether the coverage will help teachers foster student learning and understanding. The Committee concluded that a rigorous evaluation process must continually challenge reviewers to identify evidence of the materials' potential effectiveness for this important purpose.
4. Evaluators will more likely provide critical and well-thought-out judgments if they are asked to make a narrative response to evaluation questions or criteria, rather than make selections on a checklist. When asked to construct a narrative response, an evaluator has to develop a cogent and supportable statement. This requires more careful thought than simply checking items on a list. By their very nature, narrative responses help build understanding on the part of an evaluator and can, therefore, serve as professional development. In addition, narrative responses give evaluators more latitude to assess materials in the context of local goals and needs and allow the evaluators (teachers and scientists alike) to contribute their own knowledge and experience to the task. The Committee concluded that the tool should require evaluators to provide their professional judgment as narrative responses and thereby encourage a critical analysis of the materials.
5. An effective evaluation process must include one or more scientists