Complying with California Rules and Regulations Regarding Instructional Materials

This document is adapted from the Instructional Materials FAQ provided by the California Department of Education. 

  1. What is California’s official definition of "instructional materials?"

California law provides that instructional materials are “all materials that are designed for use by pupils and their teachers as a learning resource and help pupils to acquire facts, skills, or opinions or to develop cognitive processes. Instructional materials may be printed or non-printed, and may include textbooks, technology-based materials, other educational materials, and tests."

  1. What are state-adopted instructional materials?

State-adopted instructional materials are those instructional resources which the California State Board of Education (SBE) has formally “adopted” for use in the classroom. You can find a list math programs here and English/language arts programs here.

The SBE reviews and adopts K-8 instructional materials, however there are no state adoptions for grades nine through twelve. Local Education Authority (LEA) governing boards have the authority and responsibility to adopt instructional materials for use in grades nine through twelve. 

  1. Is it required that districts/LEAs use state-adopted instructional materials?

No. Education Code Section 60210 states that “notwithstanding any other law, a local educational agency may use instructional materials that are aligned with the academic content standards … including instructional materials that have not been adopted by the state board …”

If an LEA chooses to use instructional materials that have not been adopted by the state board, the LEA must conduct a review process and ensure that a majority of participants in the review process are classroom teachers. Read more about going off-list here.

  1. What is the Williams legislation and how does it apply to instructional materials?

The Williams legislation seeks to ensure that all students have the basics of a quality education, specifically sufficient access to standards-aligned instructional materials and textbooks, safe and clean school facilities, and qualified teachers. Williams applies to all schools in California, but there is an increased focus is on the state’s lowest-performing schools, those in deciles 1-3 of the Academic Performance Index (API).

  1. What is the official definition of “sufficient textbooks or instructional materials”?

Education Code Section 60119 indicates that “sufficient textbooks or instructional materials means that each pupil, including English learners, has a standards-aligned textbook or instructional materials, or both, to use in class and to take home.”

  1. How must a district or LEA demonstrate that students have access to sufficient standards-aligned textbooks and instructional materials?

The governing board of each school district or LEA is responsible for holding a public hearing each year to make a determination as to whether each student in each school in the district has sufficient textbooks or instructional materials, or both, that are aligned to the content standards in mathematics, science, history-social science, and English/language arts, including the English language development component of an adopted program. The governing board must also make a written determination as to whether each pupil enrolled in health and foreign language classes has sufficient textbooks or instructional materials, and science laboratory equipment for high school science lab courses. The public hearing must be held between the first day of the school year and the end of the eighth week of the school year.

The state does not require specific documentation of sufficiency of instructional materials, however the CDE has developed survey forms that may be used as a self-study and validation tool.

If the governing board determines that there are insufficient textbooks or instructional materials, or both, the governing board must take action to remedy the deficiency within the first 8 weeks of the school year.

  1. What role does the county play in ensuring Williams compliance?

The Williams legislation requires the county superintendent of schools to monitor low-performing schools. The county must conduct a review within the first four weeks of the academic year to determine whether students have access to sufficient instructional materials. Again, any deficiencies must be corrected within the first 8 weeks of the school year.

The Williams legislation also established the Williams Uniform Complaint Procedure (UCP), a mandate that a complaint form be available at each school site and on the district website for use by parents, teachers and students. Complaints must be investigated and a remedy provided within 30 days.

  1. How do instructional materials fit into the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP)?

Every school district in California is required to prepare a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). It includes the LEA’s annual goals for all students and for each subgroup in regard to eight state priorities and any local priorities, as well as the plans for implementing actions to achieve those goals. One of the eight state priorities (Priority 1) includes “the degree to which every pupil…has sufficient access to the standards-aligned instructional materials as determined pursuant to EC section 60119.”

When writing LCAP and establishing goals, districts should consider instructional materials needs and ensure their Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) budget is aligned with those goals. LCAP actions and services should reflect the district’s strategy for selecting quality curriculum/instructional materials, adopting materials, and monitoring implementation and evaluating on-going impact. Districts should keep in mind that LCFF resources or expenditures are limited and should be aligned to the actions and services that support the high quality curriculum necessary to achieve desired outcomes for students.

Note that Williams requirements are integrated into the LCFF and Education Code 60119, as is reflected in the language under LCAP Priority 1.

  1. What funding is available to districts to purchase instructional materials?

Districts may use Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funds or Proposition 20 lottery funds (Cardenas Textbook Act of 2000) to purchase instructional materials. Note that the Instructional Materials Funding Realignment Program (IMFRP) and the Instructional Materials Block Grant are no longer in effect in California.

For additional information, view California’s list of Instructional Materials FAQ.