KCS selects new textbooks

NEW BOOKS? KCS recenttly adopted new textbooks, but
that does not mean it will purchase those books.

Gracie Flanary

NEW BOOKS? KCS recenttly adopted new textbooks, but that does not mean it will purchase those books.

Michael Fanning

Textbooks can get old after a while, so they need to be replaced. Some teachers and stakeholders were selected to help determine which new textbooks should be used in classrooms across Kingsport City Schools.

Lamar Smith, the supervisor of federal programs of KCS, serves on Kingsport’s committee to select new textbooks.

“This is my third year working with the textbook adoption in KCS,” he said. “This duty has traditionally gone to someone within the Curriculum and Instruction Department, which is where I am in our organizational chart.”

Sevier social studies teacher Lynna Bingham was also selected to serve on the committee.

“I started by attending a presentation one evening at Meadowview, where a company presented their materials,” Bingham said. “From there, I was sent several links from other companies to look through and play around with.”

Once she had done that, she had a form to fill out to organize her thoughts on the different companies.

“Then I went to a meeting at the administrative support center, where I shared my opinions and we decided which publisher we wanted to go with,” Bingham said.

The process actually starts at the state level.

“They select a committee of teachers and stakeholders for the various subjects that will be up for adoption the following year,” Smith said. “This committee meets multiple times to determine which textbooks that were bid meet the state standards. It is a very rigorous process, and we have had multiple KCS teachers serve on these state committees.”

After that list is chosen, a group of KCS teachers and parents from across the district work with the local adoption committee.

“This group looks over the various state approved textbooks to determine which would best fit the needs for KCS,” Smith said.

People on the committee have specific things to look for while selecting new textbooks.

“When looking for a textbook, I had to make sure it was as closely aligned to the state standards as possible,” Bingham said. “It was also important to look for online materials.”

The committee members score each textbook with a rubric.

“The number one aspect for any textbook is its alignment to the Tennessee State Standards for that subject,” Smith said.

Any textbook selected has to come from the state approved list.

“The committee members select books from the state approved list mentioned earlier,” Smith said. “Those books are vetted so well by the state adoption committee before being placed on the list that it helps our KCS adoption committee focus on a narrower group of book choices.”

Some teachers do not use a textbook in class, usually because they do not properly address the standards.

“I rarely use a textbook in my classroom,” Bingham said. “The textbooks we currently have are not closely aligned with standards and do not go into the depth that is needed for our current standards. I would like to have a new textbook if possible that will be aligned to the new standards that we will be following next year.”

Many teachers believe that textbooks are no longer necessary, especially considering online resources. Bingham agrees, but still sees a use in textbooks.

“Textbooks are not necessary, but if they are good and have good resources they can be very beneficial,” Bingham said.

Should students have a chance to give their input on textbooks?

“I do not think students should be involved in the selection process” Bingham said. “As helpful as student input can be, when it comes to selecting something based on the standards, students do not have the in depth knowledge needed for the selection process. We are analyzing primary sources, and writing at a much higher level than ever before, so the depth of knowledge needed to know what is appropriate or not appropriate to use in the classroom is above what students are able to do without training on the process.”

Smith believes that students already have this opportunity, even if they don’ t know it.

“We actually encourage all of our stakeholders to get involved in the process,” Smith said, “We have a period for public viewing of the textbooks and resources that are considered for adoption each year.”

There’s a reason why the state of Tennessee adopts new textbooks.

“The Tennessee State Department of Education requires each school system to go through a textbook adoption process each year,” Smith said. “However, that does not mean that we are required to purchase textbooks that year. Adoption and purchasing are two different processes.”

In the end, Bingham hopes the newly adopted textbooks are eventually purchased.

“Having a good textbook with the changing of the standards would be a fabulous resource for us to have,” she said.

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