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Curriculum: A Catalyst for Change (Part Four)

This is the fourth and final segment of Curriculum: A Catalyst for Change co-written by Sara McGinnis and Kyla Slate.  Sara is the curriculum director at Sheridan County School District #1 (SCSD#1) in Wyoming. Kyla is a former consultant with the Curriculum Leadership Institute (CLI) who worked with both SCSD#1 and Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School (BBCHS#307) in Illinois.  Other contributors are noted within each part.  Earlier segments included Intentional Change at the District Level (pt.1), Principals as Instructional Leaders (pt. 2), and Teachers in Charge (pt. 3).

Where are They Now?

In the current accountability age in education and looking down the road to compliance with the new ESSA requirements, it is clear that standards-aligned curriculum and assessments will play a key role.  With four years of work behind them, Sheridan County School District #1 (SCSD#1), Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School District #307 (BBCHS#307), and other CLI client districts may be ahead of the curve in terms of being able to demonstrate such alignment, which also puts them on track to be able to meet other provisions of the act.  As the work in these districts continues according to their long range plans, all subject areas will go through the new processes, celebrating the incredible accomplishments and persevering through the bumps and detours in the road.

Sara (SCSD #1): “It is with much pride that I witness the rich conversations taking place in our schools today. Teachers use terms such as depth of knowledge, learning targets, and assessment alignment with confidence. They analyze data critically and collaborate on interventions and enrichments needed to fill gaps in student learning. The pride I have isn’t because of anything I did, but pride in how they didn’t give up on themselves or each other. It definitely wasn’t easy by any means and there were times when we all wanted to throw in the towel, but we persevered because we believed in the vision of becoming a professional community of learners and helping students realize their potential.  Some of our colleagues left the district because they weren’t comfortable with the vision and direction. In their place we have new colleagues who love where we are and are ready to jump in and work alongside us.”

Jill (BBCHS#307): “I look forward to beginning the cycle again.  If we are this much better after one time through, I can only imagine what we will create next.”

Tiffany (BBCHS#307): “Using this change model has increased both productivity and the capacity of our teachers to feel a part of and create meaningful change in the classroom and students are now talking about learning outcomes rather than accumulating points.  One of our biggest successes is our RtI system, which at the high school level, is a bit of a unicorn.  We had been trying to get it off the ground since 2005-2006 to no avail. However, now that we have a rigorous grade level curriculum, the need for support for the curriculum was glaring and non-negotiable. Additionally, the changes made thus far definitely meet the needs of ESSA moving forward.  It is all about thoughtful change and a systematic approach to school improvement.”

When leading others through a change process, the most important thing for leaders to remember is adherence to the vision and the plan for implementation, which will ensure that the final products are what you envisioned at the beginning.  One teacher put it simply, “trust the process.”


Fullan, Michael. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. Jossey-Bass, 2001.

Anderson, L. W. and Krathwohl, D. R., et al (Eds.) (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Boston, MA. Allyn & Bacon: Pearson Education Group.

Adams, G., Danielson, C., Moilanen, G., & Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. (2009). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandria, Va. ASCD. (1996).