The state textbook adoption process is administered in accord with the statutory requirements as set forth in T.C.A. 49-6-2201---2209 and 49-3-310. The following is a brief summary of the process.
The State Textbook Commission is composed of 10 members whose responsibility is to recommend an official list of textbooks for approval of the State Board of Education. By law, the Commission includes a county superintendent, a city superintendent, a principal, one teacher or supervisor from grades 1-3, one teacher or supervisor from grades 4-8, one teacher or supervisor from grades 9-12, and one member not employed in the educational system of the state from each of the three grand divisions of the state. The Commissioner of Education serves as Secretary of the Commission.
The policies and procedures for selection of textbooks by the State Textbook Commission, approved in 1981, include the following objectives for selection.
The official list is divided into six sections, with new books considered for listing in one section each year. An invitation to bid, listing the categories to be considered that year, is mailed to each publisher with books currently on contract and to any other publisher expressing an interest in bidding. Publishers typically submit 250-300 books per year for the Commission's consideration.
The physical specifications to which books are constructed comprise one of the most important considerations for the books bid. In order to assure that the books are durable enough to withstand six years of use by students, the State Textbook Commission has adopted the Manufacturing Standards and Specifications For Textbooks of the National Association of State Textbook Administrators as its standard.
Since 1986, the State Textbook Commission has used an advisory panel of expert teachers in each subject area or grade level to advise the Commission on book selections. This panel, commonly referred to as the Textbook Review Committee, thoroughly reviews the books submitted. New members, with expertise in the subject areas up for adoption, are selected for this committee annually through an application process open to any teacher meeting the qualifications to serve on a local adoption committee.
The state seeks input from the public through access to hard-copy materials at 10 collection sites and through online access provided by the publishers. The department announces when the textbooks are available for public review at the collection sites during the state textbook review and approval process. The public can view textbooks at the same time as the state review committees are analyzing them, prior to the approval of the books. The public can submit feedback on the books and their input is sent to the publishers and the Textbook Commission for their consideration during the approval process. The public can continue to view and submit feedback on the approved textbooks at the 10 district collection sites year-round.
The State Board of Education standards development cycle precedes the textbook adoption cycle in order that books bid by the publishers may be evaluated against the board-approved standards. Each year, a review instrument is developed to determine how well the books correlate to what the research says about teaching that particular subject as well as how well they correlate to our standards. Since local textbook adoption committees have limited time and a relatively short timeframe in which to make their adoptions, it is essential that the list of books from which they select include only those books which adequately cover the respective courses. Summary reports for each book or series listed are made available upon request to local school systems each year.
When the recommended official list is approved by the State Board of Education, publishers must contract with the State Textbook Commission to provide the listed books at the bid price for a six-year period. Local school systems must subsequently adopt books on the official list and provide them to their students. Local superintendents appoint committees of three or five teachers and/or supervisors who hold professional certificates, have three or more years teaching experience in the public schools, and are currently teaching or supervising the respective subjects. These committees recommend titles from the official list for the approval of the local board of education.
Supplies of books are maintained in a depository in the state. School districts make their purchases directly from the depository.