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Policy 8040 – Selection of Instructional Materials

The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures for the evaluation, selection, and review of instructional materials for use in Howard County Public Schools.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education recognizes its responsibility for the selection and acquisition of instructional materials in accordance with current state law and policies. The Board further recognizes that the instructional materials selected will provide content that aligns with local, state, and national standards.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures for the evaluation, selection, and review of instructional materials for use in Howard County Public Schools.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Book – A written work that has been published in a variety of formats, such as print, digital, and audio recordings.

  2. Curricular Area Selection Committees – Committees of supervisors, teachers, parents, other community members and administrators that annually reviews instructional materials and proposes additions to and deletions from the approved curricular instructional materials list.

  3. Curricular Area Selection Criteria – Content specific guidelines and standards that are followed when selecting and purchasing instructional materials.

  4. Digital Tool – Any website, application (app), or software that requires an account.

  5. HCPSS Standard Selection Criteria – Systemwide guidelines and standards followed by all curricular areas when selecting and purchasing instructional materials.

  6. Instructional Materials – Resources used in educational lessons, which include active learning, digital tools, and reference materials for parents and students.

  7. Instructional Materials Criteria/Review Committee (CRC) – A countywide committee of teachers, parents, community members, students, subject area coordinators, and instructional facilitators who re-evaluate approved texts, review materials for which requests for reevaluation have been received, and review curricular area selection criteria.

  8. Media Purchasing Sources – Published review resources chosen by the media selection committee used in the selection of books and audiovisual materials.

  9. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the student:

    1. Biological Parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive Parent – A parent who has legally adopted the student and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or an agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian – A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody, or control over the student but who is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article §7-101(c) (Informal Kinship Care).

    6. Foster Parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in their home by a state agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  10. Software – Any application or script that can be executed on a computer system, server, or other electronic device.

  11. Supervisor – A coordinator, instructional facilitator, director or other person assigned responsibility for the text or media selection process of a particular office or area.

  12. Supplemental Instructional Materials – Teacher-selected resources, other than approved course specific resources, used to support or reinforce instruction.

IV. Standards

  1. All instructional materials, including supplemental, that are selected to be used with students will be approved using HCPSS established procedures and selection criteria.

  2. The HCPSS will maintain systemwide selection criteria and specific curricular area selection criteria that aligns with national, state standards and law.

  3. The HCPSS Standard Selection Criteria will be used in selecting all instructional and supplemental materials.

    1. The HCPSS Standard Selection Criteria will be:

      1. Aligned to the HCPSS curriculum.

      2. Designated age/grade appropriate for the students for which the materials will be used.

      3. Representative and respectful of the pluralistic nature and diversity of the global society.

      4. Of high quality content and format.

      5. A representation of contrasting points of view or multiple interpretations of content where appropriate for the approved curriculum.

      6. Free of questions or activities that invade personal or family privacy by requiring students to reveal private, personal or family information such as parental or personal relationships, political beliefs, and religious and moral attitudes.

      7. Compliant with HCPSS hardware, software, learning management system, and network standards to ensure optimum performance of electronic, digital, and web based instructional materials.

      8. Compliant with federal, state, and local laws regarding data privacy, copyright and accessibility for all students.

    2. The following are the HCPSS Standard Selection Criteria that are to be used in selecting audio and/or video criteria:

      1. Audio and video materials including streaming, should be used to enhance instruction according to approved curriculum. Schools must be judicious in acquiring and using audio and videos, making certain that they are not substituting their use for more worthwhile experiences or using an entire video when several selected excerpts would serve the instructional purpose more effectively. Rarely should teachers show full-length feature videos during class time.

      2. Videos rated R, NC-17, or non-rated feature videos produced after 1990, may not be shown to classes in HCPSS; furthermore, PG-13 videos may not be shown in middle or elementary schools. PG rated videos may not be shown to students in Grades PreK-3. Annual notification of these restrictions should be made to parents and site-based staff.

      3. Teachers may show brief, appropriate excerpts from audio and visual excluded by this policy to address an important instructional purpose. The teacher is responsible to ensure that the excerpts conform to this policy and subject area selection criteria.

      4. Prior to use with students, all audio and video material will be previewed and evaluated by those teachers who will use it. If the material meets curricular objectives and is age and developmentally appropriate, it may be used.

  4. The CRC will be maintained in order to review the curricular area selection criteria and oversee reevaluation requests.

  5. Each curricular area will have a curricular area selection committee that:

    1. Uses the HCPSS standard selection criteria to determine additional specific curricular area selection criteria, and;

    2. Evaluates and recommends instructional materials.

V. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/Designee will oversee the selection of instructional materials that align with the vision and goals of the HCPSS.

  2. The Superintendent/Designee will annually provide any recommended revisions of the HCPSS standard selection criteria, curricular instructional materials, and media purchasing source list to the Board for approval.

  3. The Superintendent/Designee will annually notify the public of this policy and of upcoming committee appointments via school system communication.

  4. Curricular area supervisors will establish selection committees and ensure that recommended instructional materials, including supplemental materials, are evaluated and approved through the established process.

  5. Curricular area supervisors will communicate the curricular area selection criteria with all staff.

  6. Principals will ensure that all instructional materials, including supplemental materials, used in their schools, are consistent with the HCPSS selection criteria.

  7. Teachers will ensure that all instructional materials, including supplemental materials, used in their classrooms, are consistent with the HCPSS selection criteria.

  8. Staff members using instructional materials will ensure that all approved procedures and selection criteria have been observed.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures for the implementation of this policy.

VII. References

  1. Legal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1400 et seq Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. §794 (d)) The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §4-205 (Powers and Duties of the County Superintendent) The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §7-106 (Textbooks, Materials of Instruction, and Supplies) COMAR 13A.04.05, Education That is Multicultural COMAR 13A.05.02, Administration of Services to Students with Disabilities

  2. Other Board Policies Policy 4010 Donations Policy 8000 Curriculum Policy 8050 Teaching of Controversial Issues Policy 8060 Resource Speakers Policy 8080 Responsible Use of Technology and Social Media Policy 10000 Parent, Family and Community Involvement

  3. Relevant Data Sources

  4. Other Citizens Review of Instructional Materials form Request for Reevaluation of Instructional Materials in Use form

VIII. History

ADOPTED: December 3, 1975

REVIEWED: July 1, 2012


REVISED: October 26, 1989, December 12, 1996, April 6, 2006 January 11, 2018

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2018