Social Studies Selection Process

Navigating the Social Studies 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 2019 State Social Studies Standards 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 Nebraska’s 2019 State Social Studies Standards are also aligned to the C3 Framework.

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 for Social Studies are aligned to Nebraska’s Social Studies standards and how the materials support the instructional shifts. Additionally, the process highlights where the district will need to provide additional support in order to ensure a strong implementation of the materials.


How to Use this Guide

The following steps draw from a number of resources including the Nebraska Instructional Materials Collaborative, EdReports’ Adoption Steps, Instruction Partners’ Curriculum Support Guide, and the work of the Nebraska Instructional Materials Professional Learning Innovation Network Fellowship.

While the following key actions and considerations are not exhaustive, they can be adapted to meet local needs as they navigate selection, adoption, and implementation stages of high-quality instructional materials for Social Studies. The considerations contain links to tools and resources that will provide additional support to ensure the process is thoughtfully planned, transparent, and well-documented.

Phase 1: Instructional Materials Selection


Key Actions





I.1 Develop your district lens.

In this step, the goal is to establish a district-wide  instructional vision for Social Studies.



  • Is there a district-wide vision for equitable and excellent Social Studies instruction? If not, who will lead the development of the vision?
  • Do educators and other stakeholders have sufficient knowledge of the Instructional Shifts for Social Studies?
  • How will the vision be communicated with educators and stakeholders?
  • What kinds of professional learning will be necessary to align curriculum, materials, instruction, and intervention with the vision?


I.2 Identify local needs and priorities.

District and school leaders will develop a plan for reviewing and selecting materials.



  • What kinds of data will be collected to analyze student learning needs (e.g. ELA NSCAS and MAP, interim and formative assessments)?
  • How will new Social Studies materials support school-level and district-wide improvement goals?
  • What are the criteria for high-quality instructional materials to ensure alignment with Nebraska’s 2019 State Social Studies Standards?
  • To what extent will newly adopted Social Studies materials align with Social Studies intervention techniques?
    What are the adoption requirements set forth in district and/or school board policy?


I.3 Establish your process.

District and school leaders will develop a plan for reviewing and selecting materials.



  • How will the parameters of the adoption be established (e.g. budget, timing, decision-making process, technology needs)?
  • Which teachers, school leaders, and other stakeholders, including parents and community members, may comprise the selection and/or adoption committee(s)?
  • Who will create and communicate an adoption timeline and schedule of events?

I.4 Know and winnow your choices.

This step involves taking stock of the highly-rated Social Studies materials available in the marketplace.




I.5 Develop an equity lens.

This step is essential for determining how high-quality Social Studies materials will meet the needs of diverse learners.



  • What steps will be taken to ensure the selection committee is representative of the diversity of the students within the district?
  • Are review rubrics and tools designed to ensure students will encounter materials that include and reflect a diversity of perspectives, narratives, and histories, while elevating contributions of traditionally marginalized groups?
  • Do review tools allow for adequate evaluation of bias that may be present in materials?


I.6 Investigate the materials

In this step, teams prepare to systematically evaluate a narrowed list of selections.



  • How will evaluation rubrics and tools be identified or developed?
  • How will review tools be aligned to the district-wide vision for excellent social studies instruction?
  • What kinds of professional learning will be necessary for the committee(s) as they prepare to review materials?
  • How will reviews of materials be conducted, and who will be involved?
  • Who will collaborate with publishers to procure and distribute sample materials?
  • What kinds of professional learning, including collaboration with publishers or other organizations, will be necessary to investigate and/or conduct a pilot of the materials?
  • What process will be in place to compare the strengths and weaknesses of the options?
  • How will stakeholder feedback be analyzed and incorporated into the review process?


I.7 Make a decision.

Teams will make a final selection and prepare for launch and implementation phases.



  • How will the final decision be made and communicated?
  • Given the review, selection process, and pilot, how will leaders develop and communicate a shared understanding of why the materials were selected?
  • What are key talking points that will be reinforced throughout the communication process?

Phase II: Planning for Implementation


Key Actions





II.1 Prepare to launch.

In this step, initial logistical decisions  such as purchase, distribution, and professional learning are made.



  • What supplemental materials and/or instructional supports accompany the core Social Studies program (e.g. consumables, assessment resources, manipulatives)?
  • How will newly adopted Social Studies materials be procured and distributed to schools in a timely manner, ensuring all teachers have access to essential program resources?
  • How will professional learning be designed and offered, and to whom?
  • Who will facilitate the professional learning, and which stakeholders will receive training?
  • Does the professional learning plan allow teachers adequate time to orient to the materials and supplements?
  • How will professional learning norms and goals be established and maintained?
  • What are the long- and short-term activities that will support deeper stages of implementation?
  • To what extent is the professional learning plan responsive to teacher needs and concerns during implementation?
  • Are there existing structures and opportunities for professional learning in place at the local or state level that can support professional learning?
  • What role will ESUs have in supporting initial and ongoing implementation?


II.2 Understand the design and demands of your materials.

In this step, the focus is  on the design elements of the newly adopted Social Studies materials (e.g. units, lessons, overall scope and sequence, norms and routines, structures, formative and summative assessments) and how they will inform ongoing  professional learning.





  • What are the core beliefs about students and the role new materials will play in supporting social studies instruction? How do you anticipate these core beliefs may be challenged?
  • How does the vision for equitable and excellent social studies instruction impact the professional learning needs of teachers?
  • To what extent does the scope and sequence of newly adopted social studies materials align with the local  curriculum? What are the long- and short-term modifications that may be necessary?
  • How might the design features impact existing structures such as social studies block scheduling, teacher planning time, instructional hours, and staffing?
  • How will design elements of the materials impact existing protocols for assessment and grading?
  • Do current systems and structures for professional learning need to be adjusted? If so, what are the changes that need to be made?




II.3 Continue to plan and provide professional learning.

In this step, professional learning plans are designed and refined to address learning needs of all stakeholders.


  • To what extent does the content of professional learning impress upon educators why the newly adopted materials were selected and how they align to instructional shifts for Social Studies?
  • How will the professional learning plan be communicated and by whom?
  • What professional learning materials and supports, including publisher resources, will be identified?
  • How will district and building leaders be involved with professional learning?
  • What types of social studies coaching supports might be put into place as teachers begin with initial implementation?


II.4 Plan for observation.



  • How will stakeholders ensure newly adopted materials are implemented with fidelity?
  • How will classroom implementation of high-quality materials be supported and evaluated?
  • What kinds of Social Studies-specific observation tools will be identified and what training is necessary to use them effectively?
  • To what extent do structures for classroom observation allow for meaningful collaboration amongst teachers?
  • How will observation and feedback plans ensure that the social, emotional, and academic needs of diverse learners are being met through materials and instruction?


II.5 Plan for assessment and grading.

This step requires consideration of current practices and policies related to grading and assessment.



  • How will you ensure educators have a clear understanding of the purpose of formative, interim, and summative assessments?
  • In what ways do new materials require a shift in practice related to assessment?
  • Which types of assessment data will be identified and analyzed to assess student growth?
  • What process will be used to adjust current assessment practices so that they reflect the intentions of the newly adopted materials?
  • How will fair and equitable grading and assessment practices be established and maintained?

Phase III: Professional Learning & Progress Monitoring


Key Actions





III.1 Work the plan and gather data.

In this phase, the plan developed in Phase II is enacted by observing successes and challenges and listening to feedback related to effectively supporting teachers.





III.2 Adjust the plan.

The goal of this step is to examine progress toward established goals, identify key successes, and problem-solve significant challenges. After analyzing the data, the team will adjust the plan for the next phases of implementation work.



  • Once the plan has been adjusted, what are the next steps?
  • How will adjustments to the plan be communicated and what kinds of additional learning might be required?
  • What will identified stakeholder groups need to learn about adjustments to the plan?
  • What questions are anticipated and how will the team respond?


III.3 Annually reset.

The goal of this key action is to reflect on the implementation, celebrate successes, identify areas for growth, and define work for the following year of implementation.



  • What are the goals for the annual review?
  • How will meeting norms be established and communicated to ensure the team discussion is productive?
  • What data will be collected to report progress toward goals?
  • How will data be disaggregated to ensure equity–specifically for students in poverty, students of color, students with disabilities, and English language learners?
  • What additional stakeholder feedback may be necessary?