Guidance for Identifying High-Quality Instructional Materials

Schools and districts around the country are rebuilding their social studies programs after years of neglect. They've come to understand that a robust, inquiry-based K–12 social studies program is central to their mission of helping students become active and informed participants in our democracy.

But as instructional leaders seek to develop or purchase curriculum, they are finding little or no guidance around what constitutes an effective social studies curriculum, or what criteria define high-quality instructional materials. In consultation with our partner schools and districts, inquirED has created a Curriculum Review Guide to support instructional leaders as they develop and search for social studies curriculum.  

The Curriculum Review Guide provides evaluation rubrics across five key domains: 

  • Inquiry-Based Instruction
  • Culturally Responsive Education
  • Standards-Based Instruction and Assessment
  • High-Quality, Diverse Sources
  • Learner Supports and Continuous PD

As you explore the domains and their associated criteria and indicators, it is important to keep in mind what we mean by curriculum and high-quality instructional materials.

A curriculum is a coherent set of high-quality instructional materials, academic lessons, and content that teachers use to lead students toward mastery of standards.

High-quality instructional materials are comprehensive materials that include standards-aligned learning objectives, effective lesson structure, integrated professional learning materials, and embedded assessments.

Questions or comments about the Curriculum Review Guide? Please contact us by emailing .