Adopting New  Materials This Year? Some Food for Thought
Districts across the country are preparing to adopt new materials this school year. We thought we’d share some important considerations to help you implement an efficient and effective adoption process.  Following are questions to help you define the scope of your adoption:
  • What subjects and grade levels will you be adopting new materials for?
  • Are you adopting the primary material for the subject or a supplemental product?
  • Are you planning to adopt the same material across all grade spans or does each grade span, or even each grade level, have autonomous decision-making?
  • Have you audited your existing materials to identify gaps/deficits (i.e., gaps in alignment, gaps in adaptions)?
  • Have you conducted a needs assessment to help you identify the features that the new materials must have in order to support teaching and learning effectively in your classroom/campus/district over the next several years?  Consider distributing the needs assessment to content area teachers, campus leadership, the district’s curriculum and technology teams, parents and your community to ensure that all end users’ perspectives are considered.The feedback from your needs assessment may not only define what your materials must contain, you may also come away with a list of features that would be nice-to-have in the new materials but are not quite as critical.
  • Have you also considered these other important factors to help you identify which new materials will meet your needs best:
    • Student achievement and demographic trends that may indicate the need for adaptions in the new materials;
    • Teacher experience which could dictate instructional resources the new materials should contain; and,
    • If you will be considering online materials, your campus/district’s technology parameters to ensure that the material you select can be supported in that environment?

This list is not exhaustive; certainly, there are additional questions you could ask/answer to help you define what you are looking for in the new adoption. The answers to these questions can help (a) establish the district’s priorities for the adoption, (b) build the district’s rubric for reviewing materials, and (c) keep selection committee discussions focused on the product features that matter most.