The instructional materials used in K-12 science classes provide the basis for what students can learn and what teachers should teach. The process used to select those materials is critical to providing students and teachers with a solid foundation for achievement and successful teaching. This guide is designed to help school personnel review and select science instructional materials. Specifically, this guide will be most useful to anyone appointed to facilitate the process — for example, a district or state science program administrator, a science department head, or a school principal. The facilitator will work with both the review and selection teams and eventually will seek approval from a school board, advisory board, or principal.
In some cases, individual schools or teachers may work alone to review and select materials; in other cases, communities and states may review and recommend materials for adoption lists. Since the applicable policies and logistical arrangements are highly variable, this guide cannot address all situations. Rather, the guide is based on principles and processes that individuals, committees, and communities may adapt for their unique circumstances and needs.
The review process is designed to be more open-ended than most and to rely heavily on the professional judgments of the reviewers rather than scales, formulas, and averages. As such, it is similar to the type of review used by scientists to evaluate each other's scientific work. This may be perceived to be a drawback because this type of review will be new to most reviewers of instructional materials. In addition, in order to produce a reliable review, reviewers will need to be versed in the standards, to have experience teaching the grade levels for which materials are being considered, and to have the knowledge and understanding of science as described in national standards. In the