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How do States Select Textbooks for Their Schools?

Updated: Aug 14



Who makes the decision on what textbooks are used in our Public Schools? The answer to this question should address the process of the how, what, when, where and why material is approved or disapproved for use in our Schools. According to the Education Commission of the States (ECU), "States use one of two methods to select the textbooks used in their schools. Thirty states allow local agencies or schools to choose textbooks. A total of 20 states and three territories—known as textbook adoption states— choose at the state level what textbooks can be used."1


Most States provide free textbooks to students. If a student defaces, damages, or loses a book they may be charged for the book and have to pay the School System. Most books are not given to students to take home but only for use in class. This policy limits its use and the ability of a student to study outside of school.


So essentially, the governing level of textbook selection is the State Government for all its School Districts or is the local municipalities, Board of Education. The process of standardization is limited when local school districts decide to use different criteria, processes, or philosophy in selecting what it deems appropriate. Who oversees this process? On the State Level, it would likely be the State Board of Education. On the local County level, it would be the County Board of Education, and its Superintendents.


Parents should take note that many of these decisions may or may not have an actual process, or committee to oversee this process. In order to assure quality in the assignment of student material, an Ethics Committee should be in place for this purpose.


By Vincent F. Shapanus, MA., Ed., IRDE

Senior Fellows & Editors

July 7, 2020 Copyright DelmarvaPTC.org 2020


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References

1) https://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/09/23/10923.pdf

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