By law, the State Board of Education must approve those K-8
textbooks and other instructional materials which districts
purchase using state money. Only those materials on the state-approved
adoption list may be purchased using state funds unless a
district petitions the state board for a waiver of the requirement.
To establish a list of approved textbooks, the state board
has devised a process for evaluating those materials submitted
by various publishers looking to have their materials adopted
by the state. The process calls for teachers to serve on review
panels to evaluate the materials and make recommendations
to the state Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials
Commission (the Curriculum Commission) on those materials
which meet the state’s criteria for adoption.
The primary adoption of science materials occurs every six
years; the previous adoption took place in 2000. Although
the law provides for an interim, or follow-up, adoption, the
state board declined to conduct an interim adoption during
the intervening six years.
In preparation for the 2006 adoption, the state board in
2004 approved the criteria
by which submitted materials were evaluated. The draft criteria
set off a firestorm of criticism when they initially capped
the amount of hands-on activities a publisher could include
to no more than 25 percent of instructional time.
As a result of the efforts of CSTA,
businesses and other education organizations, the state board
backed down from the limit and revised the criteria to require
that no less than 20 to 25 percent of the instructional
program in submitted materials be composed of hands-on activities.
Panels comprised primarily of science teachers—the Instructional
Materials Advisory Panels, or IMAPs—and panels of science
experts—Content Review Panels, or CRPs—were selected to review
and evaluate the submitted materials for compliance with the
criteria and for science content. The Curriculum Commission
and State Board of Education approved 51 IMAP members and
24 CRP members over the course of several meetings from September
2005 to March 2006. Irregularities with the initial screening
and appointment of IMAP members by the Curriculum Commission
caused CSTA to request a meeting with the state board president
and members of the commission to resolve various
points of contention with the selection process. As a
result of that meeting, several IMAP applicants who had been
eliminated by the Curriculum Commission for illegitimate reasons
were subsequently appointed by the commission and board.
The IMAPs and CRPs met in July 2006 to evaluate the submitted
materials and make an initial recommendation to the full Curriculum
Commission. The panels recommended 11 of the 12 submitted
programs to be adopted. Subsequently, the commission, at its
September meeting, confirmed the IMAP/CRP recommendations
and recommended the 11 programs to the State Board of Education,
which formally adopted the materials in November.
CSTA and the K-12 Alliance had organized a "parallel" review
of the submitted materials. Teams followed essentially the
same process as used by the official IMAP/CRP panels, using
the Criteria for Evaluating Science Instructional Materials
and the publishers' standards maps. The CSTA/K-12 Alliance
teams reached the same conclusions about the programs as the
IMAPs and CRPs. Team members attended the four-day IMAP/CRP
deliberations meeting and were instrumental in a couple of
cases in calling attention to some procedural irregularities
which, if left unchecked, may have resulted in some qualified
programs not being recommended by the panels. We also testified
at the Curriculum Commission meeting in September in support
of the IMAP/CRP recommendations. In a disagreement between
the two science experts on the commission concerning the one
non-recommended program, the work of the CSTA/K-12 Alliance
teams was acknowledged as being decisive in the final commission
CSTA thanks all the great people who served on our "unofficial"
teams, who reviewed the materials and/or attended the deliberations
meetings. You made the difference!