School districts have been using state standards and curriculum maps for years. Some districts genuinely believe that standards or maps are their curriculum. In reality, they should never be used by themselves as curriculum in any subject area. Here’s why:
- The verbs in state standards are often vague, the content is in “clusters” of grade level bands rather than separate grade levels, and/or the quantity is beyond what can realistically be accomplished in an academic year.
- Curriculum maps are the individual teacher or department’s how and when for content, not the district-wide decisions of what and why.
States have the option of creating their own sets of content standards and several have adopted the Common Core State Standards for Math and English/Language Arts. Either way, these standards will not replace a solid local curriculum; however, they will unquestionably impact your curriculum. A curriculum developed with the support of CLI allows the flexibility to incorporate other content pieces or external measures that state standards may not include but are deemed important to the local community. Examples may include the ACT or local policy, such as a district’s wellness program. The locally developed curriculum shows support references to those external measures, as well as, complete alignment to the adopted state standards. CLI has the expertise to help districts build a teachable curriculum, regardless of the external measures being used. This curriculum will align with a set of standards, reference other measures of expectations, and have a local emphasis.
Remember, standards and maps are NOT curriculum! Using state’s math standards as an example, CLI consultants will meet with the math Subject Area Committee to analyze the standards and interpret their meanings. Next, the committee utilizes math standards, the district’s own curriculum document, and reported topics and skills to make comparisons. Through this process, the committee determines what is missing, how information needs to be differentiated at various grade levels, where more rigor is needed, and what “extra” items can be eliminated. The final product will be a math curriculum that meets the needs of the district’s own student population, requires high levels of achievement, delineates appropriate rigor for all students, and aligns with the standards.
A word of advice: we have also learned through talking to and working with districts of various sizes and locations that, generally speaking, in order to implement the curriculum changes needed, districts need MUCH MORE and MUCH EARLIER professional development than they originally thought. This is not a place to skimp on time, monetary, or human resources; to do so puts teachers and students in jeopardy.
CLI makes students more accountable for their learning, clarifies communication among teachers, students, and parents, and ensures all effort within the district is efficient and focused on the same result. If you need aligned curriculums for your school district, and a process that leads to focused, deliberate instruction as well as common assessments – you need CLI. For more information, see How the CLI Model Helps You.
If your district could use help with how to address standards, contact CLI.