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Selecting Instructional Materials: A Guide for K-12 Science
student population. Scientists can contribute their broad knowledge of science content and scientific inquiry and can be particularly helpful in reviewing the importance of the content and its accuracy.
"Curriculum framework," as used here, means the design for a science program. Frameworks can be official documents representing a mandate approved at the state, county, or district level or can be working documents, useful for sketching out proposed components of a multigrade science program. Many frameworks are published as a matrix of topics and grades or grade ranges. A review and selection process can identify resources for each cell in the matrix.
Review and Selection Process Overview
The review and selection process in this guide differs from some other processes in that it has been designed to rely on the individual and collective judgments of the reviewers, not on checklists, scales, or rubrics. The judgments are based on standards, and incorporate evidence about how likely it is that students will learn through use of the materials. The final products include a review team summary report and recommendations to the decision-making body. Provision is made for consideration of the costs of the materials and reviewer opinions about the need for teacher professional development. These processes are designed to be flexible to suit various purposes, timelines, and available resources.
The review process generates information about the quality of instruction units — the building blocks of a complete science curriculum. The selection of a collection of materials should not be viewed as the equivalent of constructing a multiyear curriculum program. For more information about constructing a complete science program, see Designs for Science Literacy (AAAS, forthcoming a) and Designing Mathematics or Science Curriculum Programs: A Guide for Using Mathematics and Science Education Standards (NRC, 1999a).
The review and selection process presented here is written as a guide for the person responsible for organizing and carrying out the task, the facilitator. The complete process is made up of five steps:
A Facilitator Plans the Review.
Carrying Out the Review of Materials.
Evaluating the Process and Results.
There are consequences for omitting any of the parts, some of which are discussed in sections entitled "Constraints and Cautions." If, over time, the entire process is implemented, and increasing numbers of teachers and community members have an opportunity to participate, the local capacity to select effective instructional materials will be greatly enhanced.