National Science Resources Center (NSRC), 1998a; U.S. Department of Education [DoEd], 1997; NSF, 1997; National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) [year of publication not available]; Kahle & Rogg, 1996).

Both the materials review process developed by Project 2061 (AAAS, 1997) and the process and instrument developed by the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education at the NRC link the review of instructional strategies to specific learning outcomes (AAAS, 1997; NRC, 1999c). Although the two tools differ in many ways, both of them first examine the match between the materials under review and the learning outcomes of the Benchmarks, the NSES, or other relevant local standards. If materials do not match standards to a reasonable degree, they are dropped from further consideration for selection. If there is a reasonable match between the materials and content standards, the materials are examined more closely to judge whether or not the teaching strategies in the materials provide adequate opportunities for students to learn what is called for in the content standards.

An instructional materials review and selection process from the U.S. Department of Education differs from those discussed above in that it asks reviewers to ascertain empirical evidence that student learning can be attributed to use of the materials (DoEd, 1997).

Criteria for the Selection of Instructional Materials

The following broad criteria have been gleaned from the procedures for analyzing and selecting instructional materials described above.

  • The content of the instructional material should be mathematically and scientifically accurate, consistent with the outcomes in standards, and targeted at the level called for in the framework.

  • The instructional strategies consistently used by the material should be supported by learning research and make it possible for students to attain the specific outcomes identified in the first criterion, above.

  • The assessments that accompany the material should be aligned with the content in the standards and the level of understanding or skill expected by the standard.

  • The support for the teacher in the teacher's guide and ancillary materials should be adequate.

  • There should be evidence from field trials that students can learn the specified content and skills if the materials are used as intended.

With these components and criteria in mind, a process for developing a complete curriculum program is discussed in the next section, "Process for Designing a Curriculum Program."

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