Textbook Committee

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Pi-R-Squared, Feb 21, 2021.

  1. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Connoisseur

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    Feb 21, 2021

    I’ve been asked to serve on the math textbook committee. This week, there will be in-person presentations of textbook publishers where nearby school districts will attend. For anyone who has served on a textbook committee, what generally takes place at these presentations and how will our new textbooks be adopted?
     
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  3. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Feb 22, 2021

    My district selects three contenders for adoption. The contenders are sent to pilot teachers (I was one) at different schools to use with students for one semester. Each pilot teacher submits a written report regarding strengths and weaknesses. From the reports, teacher interviews and committee input a final selection is made. Be aware that securing an adoption contract is big bucks for publishing companies. They often lobby school boards and committee members. I recall one publisher stating his company’s philosophy, “We are not in the business of learning. We are in the business of selling.”
     
  4. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    Feb 22, 2021

    There are presentations, that after awhile seem to run together. I would have some kind of rubric or pro/con list made out for each book. It is important to know what you want. Do you want a book all online, or a book that has a hard copy? How do you value the amount of practice problems versus real world application? I would also make sure to ask what is included in their adoption. I have seen the book companies spend a lot of time on great online programs which don't come with the adoption of the book.
     
  5. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

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    Feb 22, 2021

    It depends on where you are in the US, I think. I got wined and dined by 3 text book committees. ( Huge district with huge $$ on the line...)
    I probably went to 6 different hotel banquet halls ate, listened, and took notes in the evenings. I spent a lot of time going through the books on the weekends looking at pros/ cons. I took the mission very seriously.
    It turned out, we all met at the end to pretty much be told which textbooks would be adopted. I felt like I had wasted my time along with others who had poured their hearts and souls into it. We figured someone got "paid off" b/c the best did not win and we really had no say in it.
    I was given 3 sets of books from different companies. I loved 1 set so much that I asked the presenters if I could have a class set to experiment with my class. They actually gave it to me. I used those books for years even though the district did not select them. If you see anything you really like, ask for more if you'll use them. I seldom do anything like that, but they'll give you about anything you ask for if you are in a huge district. :)
     
  6. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Connoisseur

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    Feb 23, 2021

    I don't think we'll get the wine-n-dine experience. The meeting will be in a "house of worship."
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Feb 23, 2021

    I have been on many text book selection committees in my 19 years of teaching. Here are some things I can think of:

    One of the biggest considerations (other than price) is how does the textbook related to your state (or district) curriculum. You need to have the Scope & Sequence for each grade level (or topic) in this selection process, and match it to your curriculum. A text that doesn't address almost all of those will not be much use and will require so much supplementing that it may not be a good choice.

    If you are from a large state (wealthy) state, (such as California, Texas, Virginia, etc.) the companies typically have a nice, shiny chart to give you that shows which pages meet which curriculum standards for your state. A key is to have a person from that grade (or topic) look this over and make sure how well the text meets the standard. They may claim it meets a standard, only to find it only superficially addresses it, and that is a problem if it is a tested item in your state.

    You also need to look at the text format -- many companies have gone to all online texts (rather than printed texts) , and you need to look at the resources available to you to see if this will work for your school community (having all on line when the majority of your school doesn't have reliable internet, or uses cell phones (which are too small to read large volumes of text) would not work with virtual texts.)

    Also pay careful attention to the consumables (if that is applicable) and the manipulative kits (if those are applicable) that come with it. Costs, replenishing expenses, and if they are just copy books, then the availability and time it takes to make copies, all must be considered.

    Last, be aware if your school/district does one of the following:
    • buys consumables and then asks you to not let students write in them (this is difficult to use, costs more in copies and teacher time to make the copies (an expense many schools fail to recognize
    • buys math series that require manipulatives, and then doesn't buy the manipulative kits (which requires obtain them at teacher expense, or by simply making laminate copies of manipulatives, which defeats the purpose of using them
    You will have a hard time with implementing a new text adoptions if your school/district follows one of the above practices (and lots of them do this.)

    You may also want to ask what PD they offer on the new series, and what the timeline is to get that scheduled once you purchase (beware, they all say what you want to hear, and then you find out that you buy the texts for August, and they can't train the teachers until November!) I see this happen over and over.

    Last, be aware that if you don't make your purchase way in advance, it will get backordered. Most schools can't make their purchase until the budget year changes (in July) and even then, sometimes the purchasing department has to delay it a bit as well, and the next thing you know, that text they promised you by the end of August is back ordered until November! Get something in writing saying if you purchase it by X date it will be guarenteed to arrive by a week prior to the school year. (It still probably won't happen, but it is worth a try.)

    The last thing I would do is get the sample teachers manual and one of each book (for the same grade!) and try teaching an unfamiliar topic (or less familiar topic) using just their manuals, text, and workbook, and see how easy it is to do that. Some are quite easy, and some have you digging through 7 companion teaching books. A favorite trick of text book sales people is they give you a sample box that has different grade components in it (such as the 2nd grade text, the 3rd grade workbook, and the 1st grade supplements.) It makes it difficult for you to recognize that their product is too cumbersome. Always ask for a complete box of one grade level, so you can find out for yourself how it will be to make lesson plans that meet your curriculum.

    Best wishes.
     
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  8. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Feb 24, 2021

    Oh, and I forgot to add --- make them show you their assessment books/disk/online component to see if the test questions look reasonable to you, and sort of match the way you do testing in your state. Many textbook companies will have questions that will actually confuse you (as the teacher) so you can imagine how difficult it will be for the students. If they give you a sample of three or four questions on a shiny sheet, you can be assured that those are the best written, most straightforward questions they have -- you want to see the entire test for at least 2 or 3 topics, so you can see what they look like overall.

    Many companies force the teacher to have to read the questions aloud, because the reading level on the questions far exceeds the child's reading ability for that grade level. This doesn't sound too hard, but it is, especially if they are doing the assessments on line. It is nightmare to test 2nd graders on math, when they know the math, but the questions are written at a 3rd or 4th grade reading level. (If the assessments are online, make sure the program will read the questions to the students (except for reading tests, of course) or it makes the workload of the classroom teacher and the special ed teacher/paras much more difficult. If a child is wearing headphones, they can't hear the sped teacher reading the questions on line, so it has to be read without headphones, which makes the room very noisy, and very distracting for other students. Also beware,the salesmen often say it will read the test aloud, but all it reads is the directions, not the actual questions of (in the case of MC) not the actual responses. Also, many online assessments randomize the questions or answer choices, which is a nightmare for special ed -- because if they are in another room, with 4 sped students taking the same test, and they are trying to read it aloud to everyone -- the questions may be in a different order, or they all get the same question, but their answer choices are in different orders -- it is massively confusing.
     
  9. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Connoisseur

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    Feb 24, 2021

    Thanks for all the advice and comments given. I didn't realize what a big deal serving on a textbook committee really is. But, I should have known because the P came to me with papers to sign to be part of the committee. Maybe I should get a copy of the papers so I can actually read the document. ;)
     
  10. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Feb 24, 2021

    I think rainstorm said it pretty well. I would add checking how well the series would transition from what you already have and noting any concerns. At least twice in my student days I remember getting burned by changing books. Once was when the 7th and up math teachers didn't know that we'd only learned lattice for multiplying large numbers in 4-6th, then wouldn't allow us to use the method we knew.

    If there's an online/digital component, check how specific answers need to be in order to be counted correct. Pearson's MyLabsPlus program is notoriously awful about not accepting correct or otherwise perfectly good answers. Also check how accessible graphics/charts are to students who may use screenreaders or magnifiers. Sometimes the graphics aren't quality and distort when magnified, rendering them useless.

    Check how units are packaged as well. My last school ended up paying quite a bit for workbooks that never got used because the 1st and 2nd semester workbooks could only be ordered together in increments of 25. We didn't take mid-year transfers past October, so any enrollment changes were losing students, thus ending up with dozens of extra second semester workbooks. If a student loses/destroys a workbook, how much will it cost to replace it?
     
  11. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Feb 24, 2021

    I was "voluntold" to be on the ELA curriculum adoption committee in my district last year. Like a pp alluded to, they had pretty much made the decisions already, they just wanted it to look like it was a "collaborative process." My P asked me to share my thoughts, and thankfully I did actually agree with the one we picked, but had I wanted something different it clearly wouldn't have mattered. We got paid for every hour we spent on this, and for me this was last spring during lockdown, so it worked perfectly. I had nothing better to do anyway and I could always use the extra money.

    We met as a group 2x to review various programs and put them on a list for ones we wanted presentations on. There were about 12 that we decided to do that with. Everything was on zoom (again, good timing). We'd watch about a 30 minute presentation and submit notes. Then we chose 4 to get longer, more formal presentations on, and made a decision based on that. There were lots of rubrics and note catchers to fill out.
     

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