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Instructional Materials Evaluation and Adoption - CalEdFacts

This content is part of California Department of Education's information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.

The following content is part of California Department of Education's (CDE) information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.

Instructional Materials Evaluation and Adoption Process


The State Board of Education (SBE) has constitutional authority to adopt instructional materials 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. 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; see EC Section 60010[a]).

The SBE schedules each new instructional materials adoption after adopting a new or revised curriculum framework, each containing a chapter describing the criteria for evaluation of instructional materials. The SBE adopts instructional programs in the curriculum areas of English language arts/English language development, mathematics, science, history–social science, visual and performing arts, health, and world languages.

As with the framework development process, the instructional materials adoption process is designed to ensure broad public participation. The adoption process involves three concurrent steps:

  • Social content review—The statewide instructional materials adoption process includes a social content review 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). Publishers must revise or withdraw any resources not in compliance with these standards. When adopting instructional materials not on the SBE adoption list, districts must conduct their own social content compliance reviews or determine that such materials have been reviewed by the CDE (which the CDE does outside the statewide adoption process) and listed on its searchable online database of compliant materials.

  • Public review and comment—State law requires that publishers participating in a statewide instructional adoption process post all student-facing materials online for public review during the adoption process. The CDE provides links to these materials from its website during the adoption process. The CDE invites public comment and forwards all written comments 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.

  • Education content review—The education content review is based on the associated SBE-adopted framework and the content standards it embodies. Evaluation criteria are developed by the IQC and adopted by the SBE and included within each curriculum framework. After a statewide recruitment and application process, the IQC recommends and the SBE appoints reviewers for the programs to be submitted by publishers. These reviewers include both Instructional Materials Reviewers (IMRs) and Content Review Experts (CREs). The IMRs consist of classroom teachers (but may also include administrators, curriculum specialists, university faculty, and parents); CREs are subject-matter experts, typically university professors. Members of the IQC and CDE staff train reviewers in the use of the evaluation criteria and establish review panels of approximately 7–12 reviewers assigned to evaluate submitted programs. Reviewers apply this training knowledge, utilizing associated review tools, during an independent review of programs, then convene to review in panel deliberations sessions. Review panels reach consensus on submitted programs and prepare a Report of Findings detailing the program alignment with specific evaluation criteria. Members of the IQC consider these Reports of Findings and conduct their own review of submitted programs. The IQC subsequently develops an Instructional Quality Commission Advisory Report containing recommendations on each submission.

In its final adoption action, the SBE considers the review panels’ Reports of Findings, the IQC Advisory Report, and all public comments prior to adopting or not adopting each publisher-submitted instructional materials program.

Lists of all publishers’ programs adopted by the SBE are available on the CDE Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Materials web page.

Questions:   Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division | CFIRD@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0881
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, August 2, 2023