Recruit reviewers. Choose highly qualified people whose judgments can be trusted to help increase student achievement in science. Selection criteria should include science content knowledge, demonstrated knowledge of effective teaching practices, and depth of knowledge of science standards. Individuals who have participated in professional development in science will have a common base of experience. Recruitment will be enhanced by including a description of the training to be provided and the professional growth benefits of participation.
Science subject matter knowledge is the most fundamental requirement for reviewers. Teachers often will have acquired this knowledge through classes and experience outside the district's professional development program. Therefore, be sure to collect background information on all potential reviewers, including their college majors, previous experience, and summer internships, through an application process.
To identify a pool of potential teacher reviewers, obtain information on participants in past professional development for science teachers. This may also be a useful exercise for identifying scientists and university faculty who could serve as reviewers. Community advisory groups and partnership activities may also yield potential reviewers, such as practicing scientists and engineers. By all means, try to identify those who have had experience working with school personnel. Consider requesting information from each potential reviewer on possible conflicts of interest and sources of bias, such as participation in professional development sponsored by publishers, past and present consultant agreements, or experience in publisher field tests. Reviewers need not necessarily be excluded because of these activities: when the team convenes, possible biases and conflicts of interest should be declared by each individual and that information then used to avoid potential problems.
Build the capacity of the reviewers. The success of your review and selection process depends on the depth of knowledge of the reviewers — of science subject matter, standards, and effective science teaching. Invest as much as possible in building this knowledge and experience. These professional growth opportunities need not be limited to the reviewers. Wider participation will not only build capacity to review new materials but, more broadly, to accept and implement them.
Resources outside your immediate locale can help you build the necessary capacity. Various organizations provide leadership development opportunities,