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Curriculum

Overview:
The written and taught curriculum is designed to result in all students achieving the school's 21st century expectations for student learning. The written curriculum is the framework within which a school aligns and personalizes the school's 21st century learning expectations. The curriculum includes a purposefully designed set of course offerings, co-curricular programs, and other learning opportunities. The curriculum reflects the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. The curriculum is collaboratively developed, implemented, reviewed, and revised based on analysis of student performance and current research.

Indicators:

Indicator 1:  The curriculum is purposefully designed to ensure that all students practice and achieve each of the school's 21st century learning expectations. 

What to Look For

§         each curriculum area has assumed responsibility for teaching one or more of the 21st century learning expectations

§         a core curriculum is required of all students that addresses all of the century learning expectations

§         the design of the curriculum ensure that each student has multiple learning experiences to ensure he/she achieves the learning expectations

§         when appropriate, alternative paths/programs and time options are available to those students who need significant additional support or time to meet expectations (e.g., on-line learning, summer programs, extra courses, evening courses, Saturday programs)

§         ancillary support mechanisms are in place to help all students achieve the expectations (e.g., teachers schedule extra help sessions; learning centers, writing centers are open to provide support; tutoring is available)

§         data will be used regarding the school’s learning expectations when the school makes decisions to add or delete courses or units from the curriculum 


Indicator 2:
  The curriculum is written in a common format that includes:
  • units of study with essential questions, concepts, content, and skills
  • the school’s 21st century learning expectations
  • instructional strategies
  • assessment practices that include the use of school-wide analytic and course-specific rubrics.

What to Look For:

  •     the school uses a curriculum template for all courses which includes essential questions, concepts, content, and skills
  •     the school uses a curriculum template for all courses which includes the schools 21t century learning expectations
  •     the school uses a curriculum template for all courses which includes instructional strategies
  •     the school uses a curriculum template for all courses which includes assessment practices that include the use of school-wide analytic and course specific rubrics
Indicator 3:  The curriculum emphasizes depth of understanding and application of knowledge through:
  • inquiry and problem-solving
  • higher order thinking
  • cross-disciplinary learning
  • authentic learning opportunities both in and out of school
  • informed and ethical use of technology. 

What to Look For:

®      Is the curriculum intellectually challenging and does it provide opportunities for students to authentically apply knowledge and skills?

®      All courses, regardless of level, provide students with rigorous and challenging learn experiences which require them to apply, analyze, synthesize, compare/contrast, and evaluate

®      The Program of Studies clearly offers challenging coursework for all students (i.e., there are no courses that “water down” the curriculum for certain “less able” students)

®      Intellectual rigor is evident in the quality of student work reflecting higher order thinking and problem solving techniques

®      Students are regularly called upon to demonstrate their growing body of knowledge, skills, ideas, and concepts and to apply them to real life situations

o        writing is done for audiences beyond the classroom {e.g., businessmen, Congress; proposals developed for local agencies (students in a marine biology class engage in a community water quality project, spend time in the field, and write a report for the community)}

o        students prepare portfolios of their work to be shared periodically with parents and a panel of outside judges

o        project work replaces much teacher-directed learning and leads to formal public presentations to audiences of parents, community people, university-based educator, scientific organizations

o        students apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of media (such as music files, etc.); students apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information to a given project

        o         the school is able to describe structures that are in place to ensure all of the above:  supervision practices; peer review; 
review of student work; results of assessments  

Indicator 4:  There is clear alignment between the written and taught curriculum.

What to Look For: 

§         a school will be able to describe the structures in place which ensures that the written curriculum is taught, e.g., curriculum coordinators supervise teachers and provide assistance to new teachers

§         assessment that are referenced in curriculum documents would be used regularly by all teachers teaching the same course

§         common assessments for a course would be used and regularly re viewed to pinpoint gaps in the curriculum

§         a visitor to the school who has the opportunity to visit a number of sections of the same course over a reasonable period of time would observe the curriculum being taught in each course as the same curriculum described in the curriculum documents

§         teachers of the same course would meet regularly to share ideas about delivering the curriculum

Indicator 5:  Effective curricular coordination and vertical articulation exist between and among all academic areas within the school as well as with sending schools in the district.

What to Look For: 

§         the school will have a written curriculum review cycle, which includes time devoted to the development, review, and evaluation of the curriculum

§         faculty members will spend time in collaboration activities (e.g., PLC’s, critical friends groups, common planning time, et. al.) within content areas, across content areas, and with sending schools for the purpose of articulation of the curriculum

§         district curriculum guides will provide a continuum of student learning expectations and curriculum guides K-12

§         curriculum is aligned across disciplines and within disciplines (e.g., tenth grade English teachers are not asking students to read a novel the students read in grade 8))

§         regular formal meetings of curriculum leaders/teachers are held between sending schools and the high school to ensure seamless curriculum articulation

§         meetings of school instructional leaders (e.g., department heads or curriculum leaders) and teachers occur regularly to ensure that all student learning expectations are addressed consistently throughout the school (e.g., student writing is reviewed to determine whether writing expectations are being met by the curriculum across all subject areas)

§         the library/media center’s resources, programs and services are coordinated with and supportive of the curriculum

§ all faculty members and student support service personnel (e.g., guidance counselors, special educators, and library media specialists) are involved in the development, evaluation, and revision of curriculum

Indicator 6:  Staffing levels, instructional materials, technology, equipment, supplies, facilities, and the resources of the library/media center are sufficient to fully implement the curriculum, including the co-curricular programs and other learning opportunities.

What to Look For: 

§         the school’s class sizes, both school-wide and by academic area, are sufficient to implement the curriculum (individual teacher loads and class sizes are reasonable)

§         the school’s expenditures over the most recent three year period for instructional materials, technology, equipment, supplies, and library-media resources are sufficient to implement the curriculum

§         all areas of the facility support the delivery of the curriculum (e.g. science labs, art rooms, technology areas) are sufficient in number and in working order to conduct the experiences necessary to implement the curriculum (laboratories in science, etc,)

§         laboratories in the school are up-to-date, in working order; classrooms are large enough to do project-based learning, and computer rooms or other technology centers are available to accommodate classes

§         sufficient staffing means that classroom teaching loads are within reason; staffing should be sufficient to enable the school to teach all parts of the curriculum (e.g., lab sciences, art, music, technology)

§         sufficient classrooms are available to fully support the school’s program of studies

§         the library/media center’s resources adequately support the curriculum with supplemental material as well as computers to support research

§         funding is sufficient to support co-curricular programs and other learning opportunities (e.g., virtual programs, music, drama, athletic and other leadership opportunities, etc.)

§         technology, including computers, wiring infrastructure, etc., is sufficient 

Indicator 7:  The district provides the school’s professional staff with sufficient personnel, time, and financial resources for ongoing and collaborative development, evaluation, and revision of the curriculum using assessment results and current research.

What to Look For:

§         the district provides leadership for curriculum coordination and articulation

§         expenditures over a three-year period for curriculum development, evaluation, and revision show sufficient funding

§         teachers and administrators can cite research (books, professional development, articles, etc.) they have used to inform their thinking during the development, evaluation and revision of curriculum

§         teachers review assessment data which specifically measure student performance of the 21st century learning expectations and use the results of the review to inform their decisions regarding curriculum revisions

§  teachers have time to meet regularly with curriculum leaders to review the success of their curriculum and instructional practices in meeting the learning expectations as well as subject specific outcome

R AT I N G   G U I D E 

Curriculum

A rating of DEFICIENT is appropriate if any of the following exist: 

  • ƒ The absence of purposefully designed curriculum (course offerings, co-curricular programs, and other learning opportunities) 
  •  Insufficient opportunities for all students to practice and achieve each of the 21st century learning expectations
  •  Lack of a level of adherence by the school to Indicator 5 in Standard 7, Community Resources for Learning, to sufficiently support the delivery of the curriculum


A rating of LIMITED is appropriate if the school has written curriculum that is purposefully designed and provides sufficient opportunities for all students to practice and achieve each of the 21st century learning expectations, but fails to adhere, at least minimally,  to any of the following: 

  • ƒ The curriculum is written in a common format which includes units of study with essential questions, concepts, content, and skills; the school’s 21st century learning expectations; instructional strategies; and assessment practices that include the use of school-wide analytic rubrics and course-specific rubrics 
  • The curriculum emphasizes depth of understanding and application of knowledge through inquiry and problem-solving, higher order thinking, cross-disciplinary learning, authentic learning opportunities both in and out of school, and informed and ethical use of technology 
  • The taught curriculum aligns with the written curriculum 
  • There is coordination between and among academic areas and articulation with sending schools 
  • Staffing levels to support curriculum review and development, instructional materials, technology, equipment, supplies, facilities, and the resources of the library/media center are sufficient 
  •  The professional staff has sufficient personnel, time, and financial resources for ongoing and collaborative development, evaluation, and revision of the curriculum 


A rating of ACCEPTABLE is appropriate if all of the following are present: 

  • the curriculum, on the whole, is written in a common format including essential questions, concepts, content and skills, the school’s 21st century learning expectations, instructional strategies, and assessment practices including the use of school-wide analytic rubrics and course specific rubrics  
  • the curriculum emphasizes, on the whole, depth of understanding and application of knowledge 
  •  the curriculum, as taught, aligns, on the whole, with the written curriculum 
  • coordination between and among academic areas and articulation with sending schools, on the whole, occurs 
  • staffing levels, instructional materials, technology, equipment, supplies, facilities, and resources of the library/media center, on the whole, are sufficient 
  • personnel, time, and financial resources for ongoing and collaborative development, evaluation, and revision of the curriculum, on the whole, are sufficient 


A rating of EXEMPLARY is appropriate if all of the descriptors in the ACCEPTABLE rating are met on a consistent level and the school’s curriculum evidences significant: 

  • use of essential questions, concepts, content,  skills, and  the 21st century learning expectations 
  •  depth of understanding and application of knowledge through inquiry, problem-solving, higher order thinking, cross-disciplinary learning, authentic learning opportunities both in and out of school, and informed and ethical use of technology 
  • collaboration between and among academic areas and articulation with sending schools 
  • provision of personnel, time, and financial resources for ongoing and collaborative development, evaluation, and revision of the curriculum which uses assessment results and current research 
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