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Selecting Instructional Materials: A Guide for K-12 Science
STEP 1:A FACILITATOR PLANS THE REVIEW
As the facilitator, you should begin planning at least a year before final instructional material selections are scheduled to be made. During this planning time, you will be gathering data about the effectiveness of existing science education programs, becoming familiar or reacquainted with state and local policies concerning instructional materials selection, and constructing an action plan and budget. In the process, you will be contacting school personnel and community members for information and opinions, as well as building awareness of the existing program and the possible need for changes.
Policy information. Compliance with policy is necessary to gain final administrative approval and access to funds for new instructional materials. For example, you will need to know whether your state produces lists of materials from which you must select materials and when state and local funds will become available. Information about deadlines can be especially important in budget planning and for avoiding unnecessary delays. Find out how flexible the policies and regulations are and the consequences of not conforming to policy. Take advantage of the Internet, conferences, and publications to stay current.
If your local plans and needs conflict with state policies or regulations, you have time to build administrative and community support for solutions. Find out about policy waivers and the recent history of how many have been granted. Talk to local administrators about the options available and your concerns in order to gauge their support. Make sure you know the history of local selection practices.
Budget planning. Each review situation will have unique policies and resources for completing the review. At a minimum, develop a budget for two days of training prior to the actual review — one to understand the process and define the criteria and one to do a mock review. In order to make a rough estimate of the time that will be required to do the review, use the following guideline taken from field-test experience: three hours per reviewer (use a minimum of two reviewers) to carry out a review using three standards on one piece of instructional material that is designed to support about eight weeks of the school curriculum.
These minimal time recommendations assume that:
some community scientists are already informed of and involved in