Vetting content in the Time of Digital
April 25, 2012 by Geoff Fletcher
As states have changed their laws to include digital content as a part of the definition of a textbook, they also are modifying their approach to adoption of textbooks, especially the vetting process. The old vetting process created winners and losers. In contrast, the new process provides guidance. Indiana is a case in point. No longer do textbooks (now broadly defined) go through a process whereby the state says one is acceptable and one is not. Instead, the state reviews textbooks and publishes its findings. School corporations are free to use or ignore the review provided by the state. Likewise in Texas, the State Board of Education still has its review process, but school districts are able to purchase whatever materials they choose, whether approved the State Board of Education or not.
School districts in non-adoption states are also changing their processes for vetting content as teachers access more digital content. Dian Schaffhauser has an excellent article in the April issue of T.H.E. Journal about this, highlighting Vail, AZ, Georgia Virtual School and Henrico County Public Schools with insightful comments and opinions from a variety of perspectives including OER guru and leader David Wiley and Peter Cohen, CEO of Pearson School. It is a well-done article, worthy of a read.
The core of most vetting processes is whether or not the textbooks/content meet the state standards (or the Common Core State Standards). I agree with Karen Fasimpaur, who said at a talk at the NSBA conference last week, that with the CCSS it is time to stop thinking of content "in alignment with the standards or not." It is not a binary choice, but rather a range of the extent to which content is aligned to standards.