Navigating the Science Instructional Materials Selection Process

Selecting science instructional materials is one of the most critical decisions a district will make. Finding instructional materials that are aligned to and designed for Nebraska’s College and Career Ready Standards for Science (NCCRS-S) and that meet the needs of your district can be overwhelming, particularly when examining vendor alignment claims. It can be even more overwhelming for Nebraska districts as they try to determine if materials that support Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are also designed for Nebraska’s College and Career Ready Standards for Science.


Through a clearly defined selection process, districts are able to determine how strongly instructional materials are aligned to Nebraska’s College and Career Ready Standards for Science and how the materials are designed to support the instructional shifts in the standards.  Additionally, the process highlights where the district will need to provide additional support in order to ensure implementation of the materials is carried out with integrity.


The 5 phases outlined here are designed to help districts prioritize quality selection of materials while maximizing time. Additional science-specific resources to support the materials adoption process outlined in these 5 phases can be found at NextGenTIME. (NOTE: Access to the NextGenTIME materials is free, however a login is required.)



Prepare to evaluate, select and implement instructional materials

In the Prepare phase, a team of leaders develops a plan for the materials adoption process (e.g., form a team, determine readiness, gather materials, determine professional learning needs, and engage shareholders).

Suggested steps in the Prepare phase include:

  1. Establish district process and parameters
    • Review district and state policies and practices regarding selection processes and implementation. (District support practice profile 2)
    • 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, ).
    • 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. (Teacher readiness practice profile p.3)
    • Collate student data – state assessments, district/school assessments, demographic, etc.
    • Collate teacher demographic data.
  1. Engage educators early and often around key research and resources to establish priorities for material selection.
  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)


Use a small number of criteria to focus on the most relevant materials

In the Prescreen phase, the team uses a small number of key criteria and resources to reduce the number of programs under consideration.

  1. Winnow choices based on alignment to Nebraska’s College and Career Ready Standards for Science.
    • Preview the science 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.
    • How does this evidence relate to agreed-upon criteria and priorities?
    • 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?

Utilize the bridge document to determine how the EdReports reviews support alignment to the Nebraska Science Standards and the instructional shifts.


Use evidence and rubrics to evaluate design of materials

In the Paperscreen phase, the team collaboratively collects, represents, analyzes unit-level evidence from two to four programs in order to better understand the strengths and limitations of each program and how they might work in specific contexts.

  1. Evaluate materials using local priorities and procedures. Evaluations should include use of content-specific evaluative criteria like the EdReports Rubric and Evaluating NGSS Design
    resources from Achieve.

    • Work with your committee to develop and apply a rubric for determining how well materials meet the local priorities outlined in #3.
    • Points to consider:


Use evidence and rubrics to evaluate materials as used in the classroom

In the Pilot phase, teachers from the team try out units from the remaining one or two programs in classrooms by teaching a unit of instruction and gathering evidence from student work and supports for teacher implementation.

  1. Make a decision.
    • Review the evidence and feedback obtained in the pilot.
    • Lead your team through a decision-making process and prepare to share the evidence, 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.


Plan for broad and effective implementation of materials

In the Plan phase, a team of leaders gathers lessons learned about strengths and limitations of the selected materials to plan for and scale up full implementation across the district.

  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
      • Curriculum-specific walk-through protocols
      • Communications plan for external stakeholders (students, parents, etc.)
      • Reflection plan that includes checkpoints for reflecting on adoption, implementation, any necessary materials modifications, future adoption, and professional learning
    • Identify additional instructional supports: