Curriculum Selection Process
The Selection Process
One of the main goals of the Indiana Science Initiative is to provide teachers with research-developed science curriculum that aligns to Indiana’s Academic Standards for Science-2016. A first step in achieving this goal was to find a process that would allow us to select curriculum that not only aligned to standards, but also examined how teachers and students interface with the curriculum as well. We decided to use WestEd’s STEMworks rubric. We adapted this process so we could use it to select materials that would be implemented in classrooms; we did not use this to further investigate the performance of the materials. This process uses a number of rubrics that allow for an in depth analysis of the general characteristics of the materials. We also examined the degree to which they align with the academic standards; the degree to which they address the work that students and teachers do; and the degree to which assessment is addressed in the materials.
In September, 2016 a committee of K-12 educators and content experts came together to review materials for alignment to the newly adopted Indiana Science Standards in grades K-8. The committee was directed to focus their efforts only on instructional materials for which there was research that clearly demonstrated student learning and for which organized hands-on materials or kits were provided that aligned to the curriculum. The committee was further sub-divided into grade bands and content areas, to perform their review. They met in person to discuss their findings and came to a consensus on which kits best met the STEMworks criteria. In every case if there was decision to be made regarding selection, the final decision defaulted to the kit that best aligned with Indiana’s standards. The committee was instructed to focus their alignment solely on those standards and indicators at each grade level and content area (i.e.- 6th grade physical science standards).
In the initial reviews of instructional materials we did include cost, both of the kit itself and refurbishment, as a deciding factor. Our original goal was to find the highest quality material that aligned best to our Indiana standards. After a detailed analysis and examination of what needed to be refurbished and supplemented with each kit, some of the kits that were originally chosen had to be excluded from the final matrix due to their cost. We realize that in order for the ISI to be successful it also has to be affordable for schools.
Use of Technology
The use of technology across classrooms in Indiana is diverse. In many classrooms in Indiana students do not have access to their own or a shared computer, while in others the entire school has gone one-to-one. Many school districts do not have extra funds to purchase technology which does not already exist in their schools. Although this is beginning to change, we realized that if an instructional material required that a student have regular access to a computer we would not be able to implement it statewide. This decision was not a reflection on the quality of the curriculum, but instead on our limitations to be able to implement a curriculum with fidelity.
Alignment to Standards
The review committee was asked to determine which standards each recommended kit aligned to. In doing so, they determined that in some cases kits aligned to standards in one or more grade levels and across multiple content areas. In a few cases we made the decision to use a kit to meet standards in more than one grade level and/or in one grade level for standards from more than one content area. In doing so we realize that the burden is on the professional development to communicate with teachers about which standards are covered by which materials and what the expectation is at each grade level.
While our hope would be to simplify the curriculum matrix as much as possible, the fact remains that there is not a single publisher whose materials that cover all of the Indiana standards at grade level. Our goal with professional development is to make teachers aware of the kit design and how the lessons are laid out, in addition where to find everything in the teacher materials in the different kits. At some grade levels there will be good consistency, but unfortunately at other grade levels a teacher may have several kits from several different publishers.