New case study spotlights Newport-Mesa’s process for adopting a math curriculum with support from OCDE

In August 2016, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District embarked on the process of adopting a new math curriculum with matching instructional materials.

It wasn’t easy work. But that nine-month undertaking, aided by a partnership with the Orange County Department of Education, is now being hailed in a new case study for its transparent, data-driven and teacher-centered approach.

Teachers reviewing materials

The case study was published March 19 by, an independent nonprofit designed to improve K-12 education. Along with providing reviews of instructional materials, the organization chronicles and endorses adoption processes as part of its mission to equip educators.

“It’s exciting to see such important work being highlighted by EdReports,” says Jody Guarino, math coordinator at OCDE. “Not only did Newport-Mesa build capacity within the adoption process, but the work continues with a thoughtful implementation plan. We feel fortunate to be part of this process and the continued learning with Newport-Mesa.”

Newport-Mesa, which serves more than 21,000 students with 1,700 teachers at 32 schools, began the process by appointing a Steering Committee, which included educators from throughout the district. That panel reviewed proposals and picked two programs to be piloted for seven weeks each.

It was around this time that district officials reached out to OCDE for additional training. The goal, according to the report, was to understand math instructional shifts and to ensure decision-making was focused on the standards, as well as Newport-Mesa’s specific needs.

Following months of meetings, piloting and evidence-gathering, the materials adoption team sought consensus on the best program and instructional materials for NMUSD students. This, of course, meant coming up with a shared understanding of what a “consensus” means.

The cover page of the case study

“The idea is that all voices are heard, and you don’t move forward until everyone, even those who most oppose it, can see the will of the group emerging,” said George Knights, director for assessments for NMUSD.

On May 9, 2017, a final recommendation was brought to Newport-Mesa’s Board of Education, which voted in favor of adopting the K-5 math program for the coming school year.

“The lasting impacts of the comprehensive, teacher-centered adoption process have been wide-ranging,” says the case study. “The internal capacity the district built for future adoptions, as well as the professional development and leadership skills teachers gained have proved invaluable.”

Newport-Mesa later offered a summer professional development series to give teachers a chance to learn more about the new material, as well as the best approaches for their implementation. NMUSD also launched a yearlong “Moonlight Series” featuring grade-specific sessions to review upcoming units of study.

The entire case study, titled “Building Capacity and Consensus Through a Teacher-Led Materials Adoption,” can be found