Rigorous Curricula
System leaders provide school leaders and teachers with rigorous and coherent curricula, instructional resources, and assessments aligned to College- and Career-Ready Standards.
The systems we studied provide school leaders and teachers with rigorous and coherent curricula, instructional materials, and assessments to improve teaching effectiveness. System leaders carefully vet and select high-quality curricula and other materials; create opportunities for high-performing teachers to adapt the materials for the system’s context; and then implement a process to evaluate and improve the curricula over time.

Does your school system…

Invest in coherent & rigorous curricular supports Less

Provide a full suite of instructional resources for teachers to use, including (1) scope and sequence, (2) units of study that identify specific themes or topics and (3) daily lesson resources, for example, detailed instructional tasks or projects, related student texts, supporting graphic organizers, checks for understanding, and other collateral that can help teachers deliver effective lessons.
The systems in our case study found that vetting curricula for rigor and alignment was challenging, so they actively sought high-quality external tools and resources to support their vetting process: For example, iMet, EdReports, or the Louisiana Dept. of Education’s Assessment Rubric.
To see an example of these sort of instructional materials in Grades 3-8 English Language Arts, please see the Louisiana Department of Education’s ELA Guidebooks 2.0
Case study systems found that simply providing teachers with more curricula materials wasn’t enough to transform their practice, they also needed to provide teachers with support and guidance for how to use and apply the curricula effectively in their classrooms.
Case study systems found that it was extremely useful for schools and teachers to have a common set of system-wide assessments to help gauge student progress and adjust instruction as needed over the course of the year.
Case study systems found that giving teachers access to timely data reports following interim assessments helped them better engage in the work of analyzing student responses, identifying and unpacking student misunderstandings, and identifying potential next steps for instruction and student intervention.

Engage teachers to promote ownership and usage Less

Empower teachers to help adopt and adapt curricula to fit their students’ needs and interests and their own individual teaching style.
Case study systems found that having structures in place, e.g. surveys, strong feedback loops with school leaders and teacher leaders, etc., helped them gather feedback on curricula usage, satisfaction, and other data that could support the continuous improvement of provided materials.
Case study systems found that directly engaging teachers throughout the decision-making process was an effective way to promote usage, ownership, and responsibility over the selected curricula and materials.

Ground professional learning in rigorous curricula Less

Ensure that teachers’ professional learning is job-embedded by centering it directly on the texts, projects, and/or tasks that make up the curriculum they use.
Case study systems found that teacher collaboration time was often most effective when teams were working together to plan and improve their usage of texts, units, tasks, and/or lesson plans.
Case study systems found that in addition to providing easy access to rigorous curricula and aligned assessments, it was also to provide teachers with targeted-support and training specifically designed to help them use and deliver those curricula and assessments in their classrooms.
Case study systems found that the timing of professional learning opportunities was just as important as the content of those sessions and worked to ensure that teachers were getting support on the specific topics at the right time.
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