Seattle Public Schools

2015 Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials

The School Board recognizes its responsibility for the improvement and growth of the educational program of the schools in our district. RCW 28A.320.230 provides the statutory authority for the School Board in the adoption of instructional materials. 

The primary objective in selecting instructional materials is to implement, enrich, and support the educational program of our schools. Instructional materials shall be selected to ensure alignment with learning standards and enable all students to master the foundational skills and knowledge needed to be prepared for college, career and community. As applicable to the given course, adopted instructional materials shall be used by teachers for instruction. Approved supplementary instructional materials may be used to enhance and support adopted instructional materials.


For this policy and procedure, the following definitions will apply:

  1. Course is defined as the program of instruction for kindergarten through 12th grade students.
  2. Curriculum is defined as the learning standards that teachers teach; adopted instructional materials, courses, scope and sequence, presentations, activities, assignments, projects provided for students, and assessments and other methods to evaluate learning.
  3. Instructional Materials are all materials designed for use by students and their teachers as learning resources to support the curriculum and help students acquire facts, skills, and/or to develop cognitive processes. These instructional materials, used to help students meet State or District learning standards, may be printed or digital, and may include textbooks, technology-based materials, other educational media, and assessments. They may carry different licensing types from open to all rights reserved. For the purposes of this policy, the School Board recognizes the following categories of instructional materials:
    1. Adopted Instructional Materials: These are recommended by the Instructional Materials Committee based on the work of an Adoption Committee and adopted by the School Board.
      1. Core Instructional Materials are the primary instructional resources for a given course. They are provided to all students to help meet learning standards and provide instruction toward course requirements.
      2. Extended Core Instructional Materials are used in conjunction with the core instructional materials to provide instruction in established learning standards or statutory requirements that are not fully addressed by, or absent from, the core instructional materials.
    2. Approved Instructional Materials: These are identified by certificated instructional staff and approved for use by a principal and/or the Superintendent or Superintendent’s designee, and do not require Board approval.
      1. Supplementary Instructional Materials are supplementary to Core or Extended Core Instructional Materials and can be used in conjunction with adopted instructional materials of a course to enhance and support instruction. Supplementary instructional materials contain additional content or present content at a different level of difficulty or in a different medium.

    Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials

    Instructional material adoptions shall occur pursuant to an established adoption cycle set by the Superintendent or their designee.

    When new learning standards or statutory course of study requirements take effect, the Superintendent or their designee will review existing instructional materials within the first year of enactment and determine a recommended course of action to ensure requirements are met in core instruction, with analysis regarding short- and long-term fiscal impact. At the conclusion of the review, a recommendation will be reported to the Superintendent if the review was conducted by a designee. 

    Instructional material adoptions can also be initiated to address identified needs in specific courses or grade levels resulting from obsolete, biased, or unavailable adopted instructional materials, widespread requests for instructional materials waivers per Board Policy No. 2020, or other factors impacting student learning.

    Recommendations could include, but are not limited to, the following:

    1. Adoption of core instructional materials to align with the new standards;
    2. Adoption of extended core instructional materials to support the existing adopted core instructional materials; 
    3. The development of district-created instructional materials to be reviewed for adoption as core or extended core instructional materials;
    4. Adjusting existing instructional materials to align to the new standards; and/or,
    5. Professional development on the new standards, which include the changes in content and instructional practice as a result of the practices.

    The Instructional Materials Committee will provide direction for next steps to address alignment to the learning standards.     

    At the inception of each adoption, the Superintendent or their designee shall inform the Instructional Materials Committee and the School Board that the adoption is beginning, and report on the make-up of the adoption committee, selection criteria, community/staff engagement plan, and the proposed timeline.  Periodic reports on the progress of the adoption will be made to the School Board.

    The Adoption Committee

    An adoption committee is the body that evaluates instructional materials for each core instructional materials and extended core instructional materials adoption. A different adoption committee is formed for each instructional materials adoption. The formation of an adoption committee is approved by the Instructional Materials Committee (IMC) in alignment with Superintendent Procedure 2015SP.B. The process for selecting committee members will be inclusive, fair, consistent, and transparent. An adoption committee’s members should reflect the diversity of the district’s students and families. Further, the composition of an adoption committee will provide subject matter expertise as well as the perspectives of family members who have current and/or former students in the grades for which the adoption is being contemplated. Before beginning their work, the membership of an adoption committee will be approved by the IMC.  

    At the beginning of an adoption process, an adoption committee will develop selection criteria, a community/staff engagement plan, and a proposed timeline for the adoption. Only after the selection criteria, engagement plan, and proposed timeline are approved by the IMC, will an adoption committee proceed with their instructional materials review.  At the conclusion of the selection process, an adoption committee will determine a final selection and provide their selection to the IMC accompanied by an affirmation that all required processes were adhered to. The adoption committee will include with their final selection detail of the mediums required (e.g., textbooks, consumables, technological requirements of digital resources) to implement the selected instructional materials and a thorough cost analysis of the entire instructional materials adoption. The IMC will review the adoption committee’s final selection, determine if the adoption committee followed all required processes and certify if they have, and then, the IMC will determine their recommendation of instructional materials by taking a vote on the adoption committee’s final selection. The IMC’s recommendation of instructional materials adoption will be provided to the School Board by a Board Action Report from the Superintendent. The School Board may approve or disapprove the recommendation for adoption.

    Selection Criteria Development

    The development of an adoption committee’s selection criteria is guided by the following process. Prior to development of selection criteria and instructional material review, to ensure that all instructional materials are culturally relevant and do not contain cultural or racial bias, an adoption committee will review Board Policy No. 0030, Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity, and will receive an anti-bias orientation and training including the use of relevant instruments to assist in the identification of bias.

    An adoption committee’s selection criteria will include each of the following standards to be met in their instructional materials review. Instructional materials adopted by the Board will:

    1. Follow all applicable state and federal laws;
    2. Meet state and district learning standards if available;
    3. Meet applicable standards as a minimum level of rigor;
    4. Enable teachers to implement the district’s curriculum;
    5. Provide an effective basic education, including providing materials and/or support to help students outside of the instructional day, as appropriate; 
    6. Ensure accessibility and appropriateness for students receiving English Language Learning, Special Education, and Highly Capable services;
    7. Provide a coherent instructional sequence and stimulate student growth in conceptual thinking and factual knowledge;
    8. Are capable of being easily understood by students, taking into consideration the varied instructional needs, abilities, interests, and maturity levels;
    9. Are based on best practices and research including benchmarking and efficacy from similar districts, schools that have used the materials, and other sources;
    10. Have a common baseline while ensuring that different learning and teaching styles are represented;
    11. Provide sufficient variety to present opposing views of controversial issues in order that students may develop the skills of critical analysis and informed decision-making;
    12. Reflect community expectations and values;
    13. Represent the diversity of students and contribute to the development of understanding issues of gender, ethnic, cultural, occupational, and religious groups;
    14. Eliminate, in all instructional materials, bias pertaining to sex (gender), race, creed, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, pregnancy, marital status, physical appearance, disability, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability;
    15. Include in United States history, social studies, and language arts instructional materials, and reasonably include in other instructional materials, significant events, societal contributions and/or positive representations of American Indian, African American, Latino, Asian American, and LGBTQIA+ individuals and persons with disabilities; and
    16. Any additional standards directed by the School Board or Instructional Materials Committee that are deemed to be appropriate for adoption. 

    The Instructional Materials Committee

    It is the policy of the Seattle School Board to create an Instructional Materials Committee (IMC), pursuant to RCW 28A.320.230, to oversee the instructional materials of the district. Unlike adoption committees that are only active for a specific adoption and vary for each adoption, the IMC is always a staffed committee of the district. The IMC: tracks instructional materials needs of the district; receives, considers, and acts upon written complaints regarding instructional materials used by the district; and oversees instructional materials adoptions. In relation to instructional materials adoptions, the IMC is the body that reviews and approves the processes followed by an adoption committee to develop a final selection. It is also the entity that considers an adoption committee’s final selection and provides an instructional materials adoption recommendation to the School Board, via the Superintendent. Formation and operation of the IMC shall be in accordance with Superintendent Procedure 2015SP.B.

    The IMC is responsible for ensuring that all adoption committees conform to the policy and legal requirements pertaining to the adoption of instructional materials. When the work of an adoption committees is complete, they will provide their final selection to the IMC. The IMC will certify that all required processes were adhered to by the adoption committee and determine a recommendation of instructional materials by taking a vote on the adoption committee’s final selection. The Superintendent will provide the recommendation of the IMC to the School Board to approve or disapprove.    The IMC will consist of seven (7) members: Two (2) standing positions and five (5) positions nominated by the Superintendent or their designee to serve four (4) year terms. The School Board must approve the membership of the IMC. The process for selecting committee members will be fair, consistent, and transparent

    and is detailed further in the procedure. Committee member selection, within the confines of the established structure provided in this policy and procedure, should endeavor to be inclusive and reflect the diversity of the district’s students and families.

    Implementation of Core Instructional Materials Adoptions

    To implement core instructional materials, the Superintendent’s designee will create a professional development plan to train all teachers who will utilize the adopted core instructional materials. Teachers are required to receive the identified professional development. The professional development will provide instruction on the proper use and best instructional practice to implement the adopted instructional materials. In addition, an evaluation plan will be developed by the Superintendent’s designee to measure the impact of the core instructional materials on student learning.

    Alternative Processes

    For the adoption of Extended Core Instructional Materials, an adoption committee will develop an appropriate review process and their process will be approved by the IMC before beginning the review.

    The IMC may approve a revision of the process in the case of adoption for courses with total District enrollment of fewer than 1,000 students. Any revision must satisfy the selection criteria standards outlined in this policy.

    When a new edition/version of an adopted instructional material is published, the appropriate curriculum administrator may request approval from the IMC to recommend purchase of the new edition/version. The IMC will grant the approval of the acquisition if the materials satisfy both the state and district requirements of the subject and grade ranges for the adoption and the relevant instruments identifying bias in instructional materials.

    Provision of Core Instructional Materials

    It is the policy of the Seattle School Board to provide or loan initial copies of core instructional materials to students free of charge. Students are required to exercise reasonable care in the use of such materials.

    The district may use and experiment with instructional materials for a period of time before general adoption is formalized in accordance with the field-testing process detailed in Superintendent Procedure 2015SP.B.

    The Superintendent may purchase instructional materials in an unanticipated emergent situation of rapidly changing circumstances or deviant needs.


    The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures to implement this policy including, but not limited to:

    • the adoption process for core and extended core instructional materials,
    • the approval process for supplementary instructional materials,
    • a process for reviewing complaints regarding instructional materials.