Selection Process

Navigating the Instructional Materials Selection Process

Selecting instructional materials is one of the most critical decisions a district will make. Finding instructional materials that are aligned to Nebraska’s College and Career Ready Standards for English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science and that meet the needs of your district can be overwhelming, particularly when examining a crowded marketplace. It can be even more overwhelming for Nebraska districts as they try to determine if materials aligned to Common Core State Standards are also aligned to Nebraska’s ELA Standards.


The steps below are designed to help districts prioritize time while maximizing choice.


Through a clearly defined selection process, districts are able to determine how strongly instructional materials are aligned to Nebraska’s Content Area Standards and how the materials support the instructional shifts in the standards.  Additionally, the process highlights where the district will need to provide additional support in order to ensure a strong implementation of the materials.


The followings steps should be considered when selecting instructional materials:


  1. Establish district process and parameters
    • Review district and state policies and practices regarding selection processes and implementation.
    • Define the role of committee members in the selection process (i.e. advisory or decision making or representatives).
    • Identify selection process committee membership which should include individuals well-versed in the content area standards and instructional shifts.
    • Create a school or district-established timeline.
    • Set budget parameters.
    • Establish a decision-making process (i.e. consensus, etc.).
    • Outline a communication plan with key stakeholders.
    • Determine how and when to collect community input.
    • Delineate priorities or non-negotiables which may include specific instructional practices that are part of district plans or material requirements set forth in board policies.
  1. Collect key research/resources.
    • Gather information on the current state of instruction and materials use.
    • Collate student data – state assessments, district/school assessments, demographic, etc.
    • Collate teacher demographic data.
    • Collect key research/resources.
  1. Engage educators early and often around key research and resources to establish priorities for material selection.
    • Examine the instructional shifts in the revised content area standards for the content area materials are being considered.
    • Seek feedback on district priorities.
    • Using the instructional shifts, identify a shared vision for what high quality instruction will look like.
    • Engage in educator training and support.
    • Review data – student achievement data, including subgroups – teacher demographic data.
    • Synthesize information and research from professional organizations and journals.
    • Gather feedback from colleagues in the district.
  1. Engage community members.
    • Stakeholders to consider:
      • Local school board members
      • Business leaders
      • Parents and guardians
      • Members of key community organization
      • Postsecondary education representatives
    • Ways to engage stakeholders:
      • Newsletters
      • Social media posts
      • Website
      • Surveys
      • Curriculum night that pairs activities with information (Use this letter template to invite families to a curriculum night)
  1. Winnow choices based on alignment to Nebraska Content Area Standards.
    • For ELA, mathematics, and science, preview the reviews on the Nebraska Instructional Materials Website. If more information is needed, visit for more detailed information about alignment and usability.
    • Lead a materials-based discussion with the instructional materials selection committee in order to choose 2-4 sets of materials that your committee will analyze to see how well they meet local priorities.
    • What does the evidence say about each set of materials?
    • How could the identified strengths support your teachers’ understanding and implementation of standards-aligned materials?
    • Are the materials educative and provide professional learning support?
    • What steps would you and your team need to take to fill any identified gaps?
    • What are the pedagogical implications and related supports that are necessary for implementing these materials well?
    • How will these materials support your team’s vision of delivering high quality instruction?
  1. Evaluate materials using local priorities and procedures.
    • After you’ve winnowed the field, work with your committee to develop and apply a rubric for determining how well materials meet the local priorities outlined in #3. This may include a field study or pilot depending on your context.
    • Points to consider:
  1. Make a decision.
    • Lead your team through a decision-making process and prepare to share the data and how the process worked with your school board and the full education community.  The decision-making process should have been identified in step 1.
    • Review an example of a district-led consensus protocol.
  1. Create a rollout and implementation plan.
    • Determine if the instructional materials need to be supplemented to become better aligned and develop measures you will use to assess how well the materials are working over the next several years.
    • Determine professional learning needs to address to support implementation (Review examples of professional learning on high-quality curricula).
      • School and/or district administrators
      • Teachers
    • Review the “Instructional Materials” category within the Nebraska Content Area Standards Implementation Framework.
    • Develop implementation documents including:
      • Instructional pacing guide
      • Formative & summative assessment plan
      • Walk-throughs
      • Communications plan for external stakeholders (students, parents, etc.)
    • Identify additional instructional supports:


Possible Selection Timeline

An easy-to-ready graphic resource developed for the Nebraska Instructional Materials Collaborative that provides a sample selection timeline


Instructional Materials Selection Guide

The Millard district shared its selection timeline and toolkit to help other districts plan for their own selection processes.

Nebraska Content Area Standards Implementation Framework

This framework outlines the 4 stages of standards implementation. This is recommended reading for any district who is thinking about adopting new materials or implementing high quality materials already. District leaders will particularly find this helpful during steps 1 and 2 of the selection process.

Building Capacity & Consensus through a Teacher-led Materials Adoption

A detailed case study of how a California district followed a process similar to Nebraska’s 8 Selection Steps that has led to high quality instructional materials, great teacher support, and strong professional development.

The Case for Consensus

5 keys to leading a successful consensus process provided by an elementary school principal. Consider and apply these learnings during step 7 of the selection process.