Instructional Materials Evaluation and Adoption Process
The State Board of Education (SBE) has constitutional authority to adopt textbooks for grades one through eight (Article IX, Section 7.5 of the California Constitution). California Education Code (EC) sections 60200–60204 describe the process for the adoption of instructional materials for kindergarten through grade eight (K–8) and mandate that submitted materials be evaluated for consistency with the criteria and standards in the SBE’s curriculum frameworks. The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) serves as an advisory body to the SBE in the evaluation and adoption process. Instructional materials are broadly defined to include textbooks, technology-based materials, other educational materials, and tests. The SBE traditionally adopts only basic instructional materials programs (i.e., programs that are designed for use by pupils and their teachers as a principal learning resource and meet the basic organization and content requirements of a full course of study, which is generally one school year in length).
Adoptions are conducted every eight years in the curriculum areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, history–social science, visual and performing arts, health, and world languages. An adoption of new mathematics materials aligned to the California Common Core State Standards was completed in 2014, with an adoption of new English language arts/English language development materials to follow in 2015.
The entire instructional materials adoption process was significantly affected by the passage of the education trailer bill Senate Bill 4 of the 2009-10 Third Extraordinary Session (SBX3 4) (Chapter 12, Statutes of 2009) and Assembly Bill 2 of the 2009-10 Fourth Extraordinary Session (ABX4 2). These bills suspended the SBE’s responsibility to develop curriculum frameworks or adopt instructional materials until the 2013-14 school year. That suspension was subsequently extended by Senate Bill 70 (Chapter 7 of the Statutes of 2011) until the 2015-16 school year.
As with the framework development process, the adoption process is designed to ensure broad public participation. The adoption process involves three concurrent steps:
- Social content review—The social content review is conducted to ensure that all instructional resources used in California public schools comply with EC sections 60040–60044 as well as SBE guidelines contained in Standards for Evaluating Instructional Materials for Social Content (2013 edition). Resources not in compliance with the standards must be revised or withdrawn. For kindergarten through grade eight, the CDE conducts social content compliance reviews. School districts may also conduct their own reviews.
- Public review and comment—Samples of instructional resources submitted for adoption are available for public review at Learning Resources Display Centers located throughout the state. Written comments on the resources are forwarded to the IQC and the SBE for consideration. In addition, three separate public hearings are held prior to adoption: one before the appropriate Subject Matter Committee of the IQC, one before the full commission, and one before the SBE. Additional information is available on the CDE Learning Resources Display Centers (LRDC) Web page.
- Education content review—The education content review is based on the SBE-adopted framework and the content standards it embodies. Evaluation criteria based on the framework are developed by the IQC and adopted by the SBE. After a statewide recruitment and application process, the IQC recommends and the SBE appoints two panels composed of Instructional Materials Reviewers (IMRs) and Content Review Experts (CREs). The IMRs are classroom teachers (but may also include administrators, curriculum specialists, university faculty, and parents) who evaluate materials according to all categories of the criteria. The CREs are subject-matter experts who review materials according to the content criteria and ensure that the materials are accurate, aligned with SBE-adopted content standards and curriculum frameworks, and based on current and confirmed research. CREs review only those materials (or parts of materials) that pertain to their area of expertise. CREs work with IMRs throughout the review process.
Both panels receive training on the SBE-adopted criteria and individually review submitted programs. IMRs and CREs prepare a joint report of findings and formulate a recommendation on each submission. The IMR/CRE recommendations are compiled by the CDE into a document titled “IMR/CRE Report of Findings” that is forwarded to the IQC. Commissioners consider the report of findings and also conduct their own individual and independent reviews of the submitted programs. The commission then develops a written Instructional Quality Commission Advisory Report containing recommendations on each submission, which is forwarded to the SBE for action.
The SBE considers the recommendations, related documents, and public comments prior to adopting or not adopting each submission. The commission’s report is modified as necessary to reflect the SBE’s action, and the final document is widely distributed and posted on the Internet.
Lists of all publisher’s programs adopted by the SBE are available on the CDE Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Materials Web page.