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Curriculum Adoption

2015 Social Studies

Social Studies Curriculum Adoption

Seattle Public Schools has adopted instructional materials for the Middle School (6-8) Social Studies courses of Ancient World History, World History/Geography, and U.S. History. (Instructional materials for Washington State History remain current and are not included in this adoption.)

An adoption committee recommended the following materials:

  • Sixth-grade world history:  McGraw Hill’s “Discovering Our Past: A History of the World – Early Ages”

  • Seventh-grade world history: Holt McDougal’s “World History: Ancient Civilizations through the Renaissance”

  • Eighth-grade U.S. history: Holt McDougal’s “United States History: Beginnings to 1914”

The recommendation was approved by the School Board in fall of 2015, with materials provided to schools by early 2016.

An adoption committee of more than two dozen teachers, curriculum specialists, parents and community members met beginning in March 2015 to narrow down the materials. After surveying the community and holding two separate public materials review periods, the committee made the recommendations.

Kathleen Vasquez, Literacy and Social Studies Program Manager, reviewed the recommendations with the board’s Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee in August 2015. 

“We selected the text that we believe had the most attention to diverse perspectives,” she said. That characteristic was identified as a top priority for the community. In fact, Vasquez plans to form another community-based committee to assist teachers in supplementing the recommended texts with an even wider diversity of materials to improve the balance of multicultural perspectives.

The recommended materials offer supplements and supports for a range of students, including advanced learners. Vasquez noted that the McGraw Hill materials were chosen for sixth-grade because they offer more supports for younger students, and Holt was chosen for seventh and eighth grades because those materials offer an increase in rigor.

“We were looking very closely at how the texts allowed the students to analyze, to synthesize, and to question at high levels,” she said. The committee was particularly impressed with Holt’s “Reading Like a Historian” companion materials, which teach students to go beyond finding evidence to look closely for issues such as bias.

“We’re calling this ‘disciplinary literacy,’” she said. “How do historians read and write about texts?”

Adoption Process

The district reached out in February 2015 to find volunteers to serve on our adoption committee, comprising teachers, parents and community members. The committee's work began in March 2015, and Round 1 of the public materials review ended April 15. The final round ended Friday, June 12. The public reviewed the finalists at five middle school libraries, at the John Stanford Center or online. The timeline below provides information about key, pivotal steps in the adoption process as well as more information on the committee's work.

The ultimate goal of the adoption process is to select the best instructional materials available that are aligned to the Washington State Social Studies Standards and college and career readiness expectations. Additionally, the district’s commitment to cultural relevance and accessibility for teaching Special Education, English Language Learner (ELL) or Advanced Learning students will guide and inform the selection.

The instructional materials process follows the Seattle Public Schools Selection & Adoption of Instructional Materials, Policy No.2015.

Evaluation of Instruction Resources, Round 1
The adoption committee reviewed the content and skills standards for each course, established review criteria for evaluation, considered public review comments, evaluated and rated each text submitted, and made a recommendation for texts. 

Review Process
March 30-April 15:  Public review and comments on submitted materials. 
Seattle Public Schools invited all families, staff and community members to review instructional materials under consideration for use in middle school social studies. This was the first of two rounds of review. Input helped the Middle School Social Studies Adoption Committee narrow materials for the second review.

Materials were reviewed in two ways:

  1. Visit the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence during normal business hours to view the materials in person and fill out a feedback form.
  2. Access the materials online. Our four vendors offered instructions for viewing their materials online, and online surveys collected feedback.

NOTE: The Instructional Materials Adoption Committee developed criteria for review based on Seattle School Board Policy 2015, OSPI Evaluation of Bias Content in Instructional Materials, Washington State Content Standards, Common Core State Standards for Reading and Writing in History, and the College, Career, & Civic Life Instructional Framework.

Evaluation of Instruction Resources, Round 2

The adoption committee extensively evaluated the narrowed list of instructional materials and selected them to move on to Round 2, the final round. Additionally,committee members sought additional input from colleagues and students, continued to review community input, and worked toward consensus to recommend the best selection of social studies instructional materials for the for Ancient and World History/Geography (grades 6 and 7), and U.S. History (grade 8).

The public was invited to review and provide feedback on the narrowed list of social studies instructional materials on display at regional middle schools. Review forms were available at the host middle school libraries during normal school hours.
June 2 – June 18:  Regional public viewing of narrowed list of materials
Late June:
Adoption Committee submitted final choice(s) to the Instructional Materials Committee for process approval.

The Instructional Materials Committee accepted the final social studies instructional material choice(s) submitted by the adoption committee for process approval and moved recommendation forward for Board Introduction and Action. Upon School Board approval, the instructional materials will be purchased and professional development for teachers will ensue.
Aug. 11: Curriculum and Instruction Committee of School Board reviewed final choice for action by Board
Sept. 9: School Board introduction
Sept. 23:  School Board action
Oct. 5 – Jan. 4: Professional Development for teachers

Adoption Committee Information

The adoption committee included teachers,parent/guardians and community members who could provide valuable insight and perspective regarding the instructional materials provided for review. The parents and community members on the committee were asked to bring an open mind, a passion about student learning in social studies, and a willingness to engage in inquiry, meaningful dialogue and collaboration throughout the adoption process.

Committee Members

  • Ruthann Allen, Middle School Social Studies, Advanced Learning, Eckstein 
  • Bonnie Anderson, Middle School Social Studies , SpEd, ELL, Hamilton International
  • Kevin Baker, M.Ed, PTA, African American Male Think Tank, Community
  • Barbara Beers, Middle School Social Studies, SpEd, ELL, Advanced Learning, Whitman
  • Erin Belka, Middle School Social Studies, SpEd, ELL, Advanced Learning, Washington
  • Devin Branson, Middle School Social Studies, Aki
  • Maggie Branson, Middle School Social Studies, Aki
  • Shana Brown, Middle School Social Studies, Advanced Learning, Broadview-Thomson K-8
  • Deneen Evans, Middle School Social Studies, Advanced Learning, Eckstein
  • Katlin Hayes, Middle School Social Studies, SpEd, Salmon-Bay 
  • Gail Herman, JAMS PTSA Steering Committee, District Task Forces (Capacity and Demographics, Advanced Learning Program, HC Services Advisory), Parent JAMS/APP@Lincoln
  • Savannah Holman, Middle School Social Studies, Jane Addams Middle
  • Jonathan Hughes, Middle School Social Studies, Madrona K-8
  • Rena Konomis, Parent/Community, Harambee Cultural Society, Parent/Orca K-8
  • Mike Kreiger, Middle School Social Studies, Aki
  • Laura Lehni, Middle School Social Studies, SpEd, Advanced Learning, Washington
  • S. Morgan MacDonald, Middle School Librarian, Middle School Social Studies, HCC, Hamilton International
  • Janine Madaffari, 6-12 Curriculum Specialist, Advanced Learning, JSCEE
  • Ellen Nevitt, Middle School Social Studies, High School Social Studies, SpEd, ELL, Advanced Learning, Eckstein
  • Christopher Quigley, Middle School Social Studies, South Shore K-8
  • Patrice Robinson, Registrar/Parent, Jane Addams Middle School
  • Rob Rose-Leigh, Middle School Social Studies, SpEd, ELL, Washington Middle
  • Keri Rotton, Middle School Social Studies, ELL, Hazel Wolf K-8
  • Ann Swiftney, Assistant Principal, Middle School Social Studies, Advanced Learning, Madison
  • Elizabeth Urmenita, ELL & International Programs, SpEd, ELL, JSCEE
  • Hilary Workman, Middle School Social Studies, Advanced Learning, Madison
  • John Zilavy, B.A. History, Teaching/volunteer experience abroad, Legal Director for Futurewise, Parent/Washington

Contact information:
Kathleen Vasquez, Literacy and Social Studies Program Manager

Contact Us

Kathleen Vasquez
Literacy and Social Studies Program Manager