A common practice for districts adopting new instructional materials is to conduct a field test or a pilot to ensure the program meets the needs of stakeholders. Before conducting a trial run of potential new programs, we recommend first establishing the purpose and goals of the pilot. We find field tests work best when they are intentional, there are clear goals, and tools have been developed to capture evidence.
We developed the guidance below from our experience working with districts across the country and from our own experience within school systems. We have also found the “Dos and Don’ts” from a group of districts known as Wisconsin’s Cooperative Educational Service Agency #4 (CESA #4) to be interesting and helpful for districts to consider as they structure a field test as part of their curriculum adoption process. CESAs are districts that belong to a specific geographic region in Wisconsin and receive support from the state and regional offices both individually and as part of the regional cohort.
If you decide that a field test is something your district will conduct, use the following recommendations and dos and don’ts to serve as guiding principles when developing your own field test. Your adoption committee should take time understanding what the lift will be for teachers participating so that they are able to communicate that to your stakeholders. Once the committee has a full picture of the scope of a field test and has created an evidence collection tool, then you might designate one or two committee members to lead the field test. Participating teachers will need a direct line to someone with full knowledge of the purpose and plan for the field test.