After the TCEA System Administrator Conference on October 30, several districts met to discuss the Texas Textbook Nightmare (click this link to catch-up) visited upon school districts by digital textbook publishers!
Mary Mitchem (Georgetown ISD) shares her thoughts and an awesome rubric Curriculum Depts can use to avoid pitfalls when choosing a digital textbook provider.
This is an awesome rubric! I shared it with several staff members and I am taking it to our admin meeting Tuesday. I can also see how this would help bring the technology team into the decision making process so every purchase can be supported with current equipment and systems we have in place. Thank you! Source: Feedback from one school district.
TCEA TEC-SIG members (not a member? Why not join up?) accessed this resource first!
More important, Mary shares a rubric that SHOULD be adopted by all Texas School District Curriculum Departments BEFORE they decide what digital textbooks to embrace:
I wanted to follow up with an email to TEC-SIG about our recent Austin-area district meetup with Clever on October 30th to discuss instructional systems management, and specifically, the recent textbook adoption digital resource setup issues.
We had been expecting 10 districts but due to the weather that day (torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes) – we ended up with just five districts, but it was still a fantastic discussion about the other TEXTBOOK TORNADO we had all survived. We had both instructional and technology staff represented and we all shared very common experiences and frustrations with our instructional systems.
One of the light-bulb moments for me personally was when we were talking about how much money was spent on this recent adoption compared to the less-than-stellar quality of the products we received.
Georgetown ISD also did an SIS RFP this year, but our textbook adoption ended up being double the cost of our SIS contract. Our SIS RFP process involved at least 50 phone interviews with other districts, a 700+ item requirements list, an online survey, and 2 site visits. Our SIS will provide online assignments, a teacher/student/parent portal, and ALL of the other features such as scheduling, PEIMS, attendance, etc. that we need to run our district - at HALF the cost of our recent textbook adoption.
So why are we spending twice as much on our instructional content, which is increasing delivered in a technology system rather than a textbook, but only evaluating content rather than system requirements during the evaluation process? It's no surprise that the result is systems that are woefully inadequate for our needs and outrageously overpriced for what they deliver to our districts.
In brainstorming this issue, we decided that districts needed an objective set of scoring criteria for instructional systems that evaluated not only the content quality, but the other features that can make or break the delivery of that content, including data integration, user account management, and more. We worked on a rubric in our meeting and at this point we would like your feedback on these criteria. Ultimately, we would like to have a common set of criteria we can use to help our instructional teams in vetting these systems.
INSTRUCTIONAL SYSTEMS CRITERIA: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FE1IJc8LkysStybfPb208K2gIFV8a6IKm7FQbNsdzrI/edit?usp=sharing
Please comment, share with others, and/or email me with changes or things we might have missed.
One possible way that we think Clever might help us in this process is by hosting a nation-wide site that provides districts a way to share ratings and reviews of instructional systems based on these criteria – it would be great to share that information with our adoption committees and curriculum departments as they consider these purchases.
Thanks in advance for any feedback you can provide on this rubric or the ideas we brainstormed in this meeting!
Information Systems Manager