Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

2018 Science Adoption FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the science instructional materials adoption process, evaluation criteria and distribution samples.


  1. What are the deadlines for participation in this adoption?

    Answer: Please see the schedule of significant events for the complete timeline. Publishers must submit an Intent to Submit form no later than February 1, 2018. Those forms will be distributed at the Invitation to Submit (ITS) meeting on January 17, 2018, and will be available online for publishers who cannot attend that meeting. The Intent to Submit form will be used to bill publishers for the participation fee for participation in the adoption. Fees are due along with a completed Submission Form (which will also be provided at the ITS meeting) on March 8, 2018.
  1. What will the fee be for participation in this adoption?

    Answer: The Governor of the State of California, Jerry Brown, has submitted a proposed state budget for 2017–18 which would create California Education Code (EC) Section 60213 which would require a publisher participation fee for all instructional materials adoptions (as of this date there is no bill number; we’ll link to it here once there is). The language of this proposed section is consistent with that authorizing the fees for the recent math, ELA/ELD, and HSS instructional materials adoptions, including provisions for a potential reduction in the fee for designated small publishers (an independently owned or operated publisher or manufacturer that is not dominant in its field of operation and that, together with its affiliates, has 100 or fewer employees, and has average annual gross receipts of ten million dollars or less over the previous three years). However, there is one significant difference in the proposed language which stipulates that no state funding shall be used for these adoptions. In that publisher fees for the most recent adoptions have been insufficient to cover the costs of conducting the adoption, we anticipate a fee increase (via state regulations) to $8,000 per grade level.
  1. Do supplemental materials fall under this adoption process?

    Answer: This adoption process is for only full-course programs, i.e., materials meeting all of the evaluation criteria adopted by the SBE.
  1. Can a publisher submit more than one program?

    Answer: Yes. There is no limit to the number of programs a publisher may submit. Additionally, the number of components within a publisher’s program is not regulated.
  1. Can publishers submit a K–3 program or a grades 7–8 program? Or must a submitted program cover grades K–8?

    Answer: A publisher may submit a complete grade-level program for any grade level combination, including only a single grade.
  1. What are the requirements for display of submitted instructional materials during an adoption? What are the requirements for publishers?

    Answer: Publishers must post the student editions of their submitted programs on a Web site that is accessible to the public (California Code of Regulations, Title 5, [5 CCR] Section 9523). The publishers shall send a URL to the CDE containing that link no later than the deadline for the distribution of instructional materials samples to the public specified in the Publishers’ Invitation to Submit. The regulations state that the materials “posted on each publisher's website shall be identical to the hard copy version of the instructional materials submitted for adoption, except that copyrighted items that do not allow for posting online may be omitted and replaced by a description of the omitted item, and any online features that are absent from the hard copy version shall be identified.”

    In addition to the online display, publishers must distribute hard copies/software copies (or digital access keys for online materials) to Learning Resource Display Centers (LRDCs) across the state. The CDE will provide a list of LRDCs as part of the sampling bulletin that will be distributed during the April training of reviewers.
  1. What exactly counts as “student materials” for the requirement that those materials be posted online for review?

    Answer: 5 CCR Section 9523, states that publishers shall post “those instructional materials intended for student use” and provide the CDE with a URL to where those materials are available online. This requirement would include items such as student editions, consumable workbooks, and the like. An item that is primarily intended for the teacher or is not provided to the student as part of the normal course of instruction does not need to be posted. Similarly, answer keys and solution sets for student materials do not need to be posted.
  1. Can we have a password or other security feature on the student editions we post online?

    Answer: Publishers may implement security features they deem necessary as long as they do not limit public access to the materials. If there is a password, there must be a process for members of the public to request that password and receive it in a timely manner.
  1. How do we post our student materials online if they contain copyrighted images?

    Answer: Publishers may either conceal or omit copyrighted images with a notation that the image is available in the print materials or include pages that have embedded watermarks. In addition, publishers may note that materials are posted for review purposes only.
  1. How long do our student materials need to be kept online?

    Answer: The materials must be kept online and accessible until the State Board of Education takes action to adopt instructional materials.
  1. What is the role of publishers at the public meetings for this adoption (training, deliberations, IQC meetings, etc.)?

    Answer: Publishers are invited to attend all public meetings. The final day of training will be dedicated to publisher sessions where they will be expected to provide an overview of their program to the panel that will be reviewing their materials. More details about this process will be included in a later bulletin. At deliberations, publishers will be provided with questions from the reviewers at the end of the first day of deliberations. They will get to respond to those questions during a scheduled session on the second day of deliberations. In addition, publishers may respond to reviewer questions or concerns during the public comment sessions that will be scheduled during each day of deliberations.
  1. How will public comment be handled during this adoption?

    Answer: The 5 CCR, Section 9521, provides detailed instructions on the handling of public comments on instructional materials. Specifically, public comments related to the submitted materials that are received by CDE within 14 days of the first day of reviewer deliberations will be distributed to the appropriate reviewers no less than 7 days prior to the start of deliberations. Furthermore, members of the public may attend all public sessions and be in the room during panel deliberations. Public comment will be taken during every day of training and at least twice a day during deliberations. We will go over these procedures with reviewers during the training in April 2018.

    Once the panels complete their deliberations, there will be additional opportunities for public comment. The IQC will host a public input session in August 2018 at CDE Headquarters, and public hearings will be held at the HSS SMC meeting and full Commission in September 2018 and again at the SBE in November 2018. Comments received during the process will be forwarded to the IQC and the SBE for consideration at those meetings.

  1. Is there any requirement for a Publisher to post a Bond in order to participate or after being approved for adoption?

    Answer: No.

  1. Textbook Depository: Is there any requirement for a Publisher to use a Textbook Depository and/or have a minimum quantity of materials located in the State of California?

    Answer: Yes; EC Section 60061 states that a publisher shall: “maintain a representative, office, or depository in the State of California, or arrange with an independently owned and operated depository in the State of California to receive and fill orders for instructional materials.” Additionally, once the SBE adopts instructional materials for a particular subject, those materials remain on the list of adopted materials for that subject until such time that the SBE adopts a new list of instructional materials for that subject (EC Section 60200(h)).

  1. Is there a requirement for a multi-year pricing guarantee for curriculum?

    Answer: Yes. Publishers may raise the price of their materials only every other year (EC Section 60201); however, they may lower prices at any time.

  1. Must districts purchase instructional materials from the SBE adoption list?

    Answer: No. EC Section 60210 states the following:

    (a) Notwithstanding any other law, a local educational agency may use instructional materials that are aligned with the academic content standards adopted pursuant to Section 60605 or 60605.8, including instructional materials that have not been adopted by the state board pursuant to Section 60200.

    (b) Instructional materials for mathematics that are aligned to common core academic content standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative consortium pursuant to Section 60605.7 shall be deemed to be aligned to the content standards adopted pursuant to Section 60605 or 60605.8 for purposes of Section 60119.

    (c) If a local educational agency chooses to use instructional materials that have not been adopted by the state board, the local educational agency shall ensure that a majority of the participants of any review process conducted by the local educational agency are classroom teachers who are assigned to the subject area or grade level of the materials.

    LEAs may also utilize supplemental resources that meet the requirements of the social content standards requirements.

  1. What funding is available to districts to purchase instructional materials?

    Answer: Districts may use Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funds or proposition 20 lottery funds. For more information on the LCFF, please visit the CDE LCFF Web page.
  1. To whom should questions for the IQC be sent?

    Answer: Questions or correspondence intended for the IQC may be sent to the attention of IQC Executive Director Stephanie Gregson at

  1. To whom should questions regarding the adoption and/or specific program content be sent?

    Answer: Questions directly related the adoption should be directed to David Almquist, Publisher Liaison, at

  1. Is there a no-contact rule for publishers not to contact any school or district personnel directly during the adoption process?

    Answer: Yes, if they are SBE-appointed reviewers or facilitators of review panels. State regulations (5 CCR Section 9514) state that “Publishers or their representatives shall not communicate with” reviewers or facilitators during their tenure about “anything related to the evaluation or adoption of instructional materials submitted for adoption.” Publishers also must not “communicate with Commissioners about anything related to the evaluation or adoption of instructional materials, other than during the times for public comment in open publicly-noticed meetings, or other than through written submissions addressed to all Commissioners in care of the Executive Director of the Commission, between the date set forth in the Schedule of Significant Events when instructional materials are delivered”…“ and the date when the SBE takes action to adopt.” Reviewers and Commissioners “may contact publishers for technical assistance in using electronic instructional materials.” …publishers “may communicate with the chairperson”…“of the Commission or the chairperson”…“of the Subject Matter Committee involved in the adoption during the time set forth for deliberations.”

  1. Are there any requirements for Spanish? If we have a Spanish version of a text that is available for schools, does it need to be reviewed?

    Answer: There is no requirement for publishers participating in the 2018 science adoption to provide materials in another language other than English. Following the adoption process, adopted publishers may submit alternate formats of adopted materials. Alternate format versions of adopted materials must contain the exact same content as the adopted version but may appear in a different physical format (i.e., on a flash drive instead of print version) or be a translation (e.g., Spanish instead of English). For translations, the CDE will conduct an in-depth review of the text.
Evaluation Criteria
  1. Added 11-Oct-2017) What qualifies as “literature” as referenced in Criterion 1.10?

    Answer: Both fiction and non-fiction as appropriate.

  2. (Added 11-Oct-2017) Where should a publisher include documentation of “primary sources” within their program as referenced in Criterion 1.7?

    Answer: The criterion statement reads as follows:

    Use of primary sources, such as scientific research, case studies, and photographs, are integrated into the three-dimensional learning, as grade-level appropriate.

    Naturally any primary source material will require appropriate documentation of credit, and for the beginning grade levels, such credits may be most appropriate in the front or end matter of materials. However, as students develop and progress in their education, it becomes more important for the student to consider the source of information being presented. Therefore, it can be important to cite informational sources at the point of instruction in order to enhance students’ critical thinking skills.

  3. (Added 11-Oct-2017) What do you mean by “lab practical tasks” as identified in Criterion 3.10?

    Answer: Students are planning and carrying out investigations. Students actually do something rather than simply observe. For example, students plan and perform hands-on lab exercises as opposed to simply reading or observing an action. This idea does not necessarily exclude digital activities but would necessitate the student exercising actions.

  4. (Added 11-Oct-2017) Criterion 1.15, stipulates the inclusion of the Environmental Principles and Concepts instructional content “where appropriate”; how much is enough?

    Answer: While the criterion statement is not specifically quantitative, publishers should anticipate that the review panel members likely will have high expectations for alignment to and inclusion of the EP&Cs, so each grade level should provide appropriate content. Refer to the CA Science Framework, especially Appendix 2, for additional guidance.

  5. (Added 11-Oct-2017) Criterion 4.4 requires guidance for providing differentiated instruction to a list of identified student populations. Can publishers cover more than one population identified within a given instructional strategy?

    Answer: Yes. See the CA Science Framework for guidance.

  6. (Added 11-Oct-2017) Must publishers include in their programs contributions from a representative of each group identified in Criterion 1.11?

    Answer: Yes.

    The criterion statement reads as follows (emphasis added by sentence separation):

    Resources include examples of people and groups who used their context, learning, and intelligence to make important contributions to society through science and technology from different demographic groups:

    Native Americans; African Americans; Mexican Americans and other Latino groups; Asian Americans; Pacific Islanders; European Americans; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans; persons with disabilities; women; and members of other ethnic and cultural groups.

    Resources emphasize the importance of science education to all members of our society in a way that is culturally and socially authentic [EC Sections 51051, 60040(b), and 60044(a)].

    Note that this statement is supported with citations of California Education Code.

  7. (Added 11-Oct-2017) The California Science Framework, criterion 1.11 references “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans”; however, we do not find an associated abbreviation. May materials use an associated abbreviation?

    Answer: Yes—in addition to use of the full terms as required by criterion 1.11. For the use of an abbreviation, the CDE recommends “LGBTQ+” as appropriate.

  8. (Added 19-Jul-2017) Regarding diagnostic assessments, what is the preference for inclusion in a program: by topic, or by instructional segment/storyline? Optimal format/blueprint for these assessments?

    Answer: Chapter 9 of the Framework provides guidance on assessment. The Framework is organized around instructional segments; however, it is ultimately the responsibility of the publisher to determine the optimal assessment organization that aligns with the scope and sequence of their program.
  1. Added 19-Jul-2017) Regarding end-of-year assessments, what would be the optimal format/blueprint for these assessments? Should there be differences at grade levels K-5 and 6-8?

    Answer: The new California Science Test (CAST) will be administered once in grade five, once in grade eight and also once in a locally determined grade within the grade nine through twelve span. Programs may provide assessments at any grade where the publisher determines it is appropriate to the instructional strategy of their program.

  2. (Added 19-Jul-2017) Should we align California instructional segments/storylines in the K–8 grade level table of contents by the school year? (Logic is Life Science content in the fall and spring while weather outside allows for study.)

    Answer: The Framework is organized around instructional segments; however, it is ultimately the responsibility of the publisher to determine the optimal organization of the performance expectations that align with the scope and sequence of their program.

  3. (Added 19-Jul-2017) The Framework suggests alternative language in K–2 for the SEPs (Table 3.1 Age Appropriate Science and Engineering Practices, page 5 of the K-2 Framework, e.g. Planning and carrying out investigations, adapted for K-2 to... Doing "exploriments") Question: Logic would have us follow the K–2 Framework, but this decision might confuse K–5 customers with terminologies that deviate from SEP language (consistency of K-5 story is essence of this query). Is there a recommendation for publishers?

    Answer: The purpose of Table 3.1. Age Appropriate Science and Engineering Practices, located in chapter 3 of the Framework, is to make complex scientific vocabulary accessible for younger students. The text of the student edition should contain the specific language of the science and engineering practices as adopted by the SBE. However, the Teacher’s Edition may include helpful language from Table 3.1 with ideas to support the teacher to help make the vocabulary accessible for his or her students.

  4. Is it permissible that some of our program content is located online in open educational resources (OER) that we do not own or specifically license?

    Answer: No. Publishers must have complete control of the content and maintain its static nature in order to preserve it as approved by the State Board of Education.

    Additionally, publishers should note the social content prohibition regarding advertising within their program materials which would apply to any Web content. For additional information, please refer to the adoption Invitation to Submit document and the SBE guidelines document Standards for Evaluating Instructional Materials for Social Content, available at the following CDE Web site: Social Content Review.

  5. What are the Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs) referenced in Category 1 criterion #15, and what is their purpose?

    Answer: At their core, the EP&Cs are a set of “big ideas” about the complex relationship between humans and the natural world. They were developed, pursuant to law, with the intent of ensuring all students in California achieve a basic level of environmental literacy as part of a high-quality K-12 education. That is why the EP&Cs are included as a Category 1 criterion not only in the California HSS Framework, but also in the California Science Framework. Through repeated exposure to the EP&Cs across disciplines and at increasing levels of complexity and sophistication from kindergarten to twelfth grade, students will come to more deeply understand and apply them in a variety of contexts.

    A list of the EP&Cs can be found in Appendix 2 of the Science Framework.

  6. How might the EP&Cs be reflected in materials submitted for adoption?

    Answer: In 2010, the SBE adopted a model curriculum (also known as the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum) that reflects an integrated approach for lessons addressing relevant standards. This EEI curriculum may serve as an excellent example. The EEI is available for viewing at California Education and the Environment Initiative Web site External link opens in new window or tab.. Publishers may incorporate elements of the EEI Curriculum into their programs with appropriate citations for credit. For questions about use permission, please contact CalRecycle’s Office of Education and the Environment at

  7. How does California define “appropriate” for the purposes of Category 1 criterion #15? That is, how should a publisher determine whether the EP&Cs are aligned to a given science content standard?

    Answer: Broadly defined, the “environment” is the context in which we live our lives. It includes high mountain meadows and cool clear streams, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soils in which we grow the food we eat. The environment also encompasses the communities in which we live and all of the seen and unseen phenomena that comprise the natural systems on which we rely. In this sense, the environment is fundamental to every student’s experience and is the context in which all of human history is embedded. Thus, based on this broad interpretation of “environment,” the EP&Cs can be connected with many (though not all) science standards.

  8. As to how to incorporate Education and the Environment Curriculum Units—we are considering adding overviews of the Education and the Environment Units and directions to accessing them as part of our “Deeper Coverage” suggestions for various lessons. Is it appropriate to include these? Would it count towards our coverage of the requirement in Category 1.15 to include coverage of the principles?

    Answer: The EEI curriculum may serve as an excellent example for the integration of environmental principles and concepts into a subject-matter curriculum, and utilizing such examples would address criterion 1.15. Review panels will determine if a publisher has provided sufficient content to satisfy the criterion.

  9. Regarding the use of “teachers may” and “students may” in framework—we are wondering if we need to include all references to “teachers may” or “students may” or if these are suggestions.

    Answer: The Framework’s use of the word “may” is permissive in nature and not a mandate as it applies to a specific example for instruction. However, a review panel may determine that the associated academic content within the example is a “must have” for meeting the criteria of “instructional resources reflect the full content of the CA Science Framework…” (1.3).

  10. How will Categories 2 through 5 of the criteria be treated differently than Category 1 during the adoption review?

    Answer: In order to be eligible for adoption, programs must meet all of the individual criteria statements in Category 1, while having strengths in the other categories. As stated in the criteria, the other categories will be “judged holistically” by the review panels. This does not necessarily mean that every single statement in those other categories must be met, but publishers should still fill out their Evaluation Criteria Maps thoroughly to ensure that reviewers have all of the evidence needed to make their decision on each category. Each of the four other categories must be found to be met on balance for a program to be eligible for adoption.

  11. Must publishers include the text of the standards in instructional materials submitted for this review?

    Answer: No.
Distribution of Samples
  1. On what date are sample materials due?

    Answer: Samples, and the corresponding evaluation criteria and standards maps are due on or before 5 p.m. PDT, April 27, 2018.

  2. How many copies of samples must be provided?

    Answer: The CDE will advise publishers of an approximate number of sample packages around the time of the reviewer training sessions, but publishers should be prepared to provide up to 60 copies by the end of the process.

  3. Do all materials (core and ancillary) need to be submitted by April 27, 2018?

    Answer: Yes. All components of the complete program to be reviewed must be submitted by the specific due date. Any materials submitted after that date will not be reviewed.

  4. If our materials are incomplete at the April 27, 2018 deadline, may we submit them anyway and submit the complete materials when they are available?

    Answer: No. Publishers will not be permitted to submit new content after the April 27, 2018 submission deadline.

  5. If a program is Web-based, do we need to supply the reviewer with hardware, or is a password sufficient?

    Answer: Publishers may, but are not required to, provide a laptop or other hardware needed to access the digital components of their submitted instructional materials program. Publishers of programs with a large digital component may want to submit a laptop or other device with their program preinstalled to avoid potential technical issues with the review of their materials. Note that unlike regular samples, which may be kept by the reviewer, any computer hardware must be returned to the publisher once the review is complete. The publisher must make arrangements for and pay the cost of returning the hardware.

  6. Will the materials publishers send to the LRDCs stay at those locations for the life of the adoption?

    Answer: The CDE requests LRDCs to display materials for two years following an SBE adoption and keep them thereafter. Following this two-year period, publishers must collect any hardware associated with their program(s).

  7. Will samples be required for every school/district or only at their request?

    Answer: the CDE will ask publishers to deliver samples to SBE-approved reviewers, LRDC's, and select IQC and SBE members. Publishers need not provide sample materials to schools.

  8. May we submit actual content to be reviewed in a different format? (e.g., pdf vs. online function). In other words, is it more important in our samples to show technical functionality or actual instruction within the classroom?

    Answer: For electronic submissions, all content must be included; however, all functionality of features need not be operational— again, so long as the content itself is submitted.

  9. Can we submit print materials in less than final form?

    Answer: Yes, within certain defined parameters. 5 CCR Section 9517 establishes the following parameters of acceptable “less-than-final” formats:

    (j) Publishers shall submit all instructional materials in the same physical form that will be offered for purchase during the adoption period with the following exceptions:

    Audio recordings may be submitted in manuscript form; Artwork may appear in black and white that will ultimately appear in color in the instructional materials offered for purchase during the adoption period. Alternate formats as described in section 9528.

    (k) Except as described in sections 9528 and 9529, publishers shall not change or modify instructional materials after the date specified in the Schedule of Significant Events for delivery of instructional materials to IMRs, CREs and LRDCs. Instructional materials changed or modified after this delivery date shall be disqualified from consideration in the adoption unless the changes or modifications are approved by the SBE.

  10. When are final formats due?

    Answer: Final formats will be due 60 days following the CDE’s confirmation of the conclusion of the edits and corrections process (late winter 2019).

  11. What are the guidelines for submitting “alternate formats?”

    Answer: Alternate format versions of adopted materials must contain the exact same content as the adopted version but may appear in a different physical format (i.e., on a flash drive instead of print version) or be a translation (e.g., Spanish instead of English).

  12. When are alternate formats due?

    Answer: Publishers may submit alternate formats of adopted materials at any time following the actual adoption of programs by the SBE and the conclusion of the edits and corrections process.

  13. Are we required to submit materials in another language besides English?

    Answer: Publishers are not required to submit alternate format versions of their adopted materials in another language.
Questions:   Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division | | 916-319-0881
Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 12, 2017