The Impact of High Priority Learning Standards on District Systems

In a previous post we discussed the definition and process to identify High Priority Learning Standards.  At the local level, districts across the state of Texas are working to prioritize learning standards at the programmatic level (K-12), then align these ideas to the individual course level to support further streamlined development of curricular resources.

High Priority Learning Standards (HPLS) are what grounds a guaranteed curriculum.  These are the “big rocks” that we guarantee all learners in our district will understand, know and be able to do.  These are the most important pieces that narrow our focus for curriculum support of our educators and campus instructional leaders.

These HPLS will ultimately impact the design of our curriculum as they will be the basis of our programmatic assessment – how will we measure the success of our program?  When we review district-level assessments, in what ways can we determine if our learners are demonstrating understanding of the most important content – the content that will provide endurance, leverage, and readiness for the next level?  When we visit classrooms, in what ways do we collect evidence our educators are implementing the guaranteed curriculum with fidelity?

Also, what exemplary content do we provide as a model for our educators? This exemplary content will support the teaching and learning of the HPLS primarily.  These are the model lessons that ensure our educators are equipped to deliver and facilitate high quality learning experiences for all students in our system.

For what content do we intervene and measure the progress of our learners?  Certainly this will be focused on our HPLS.  When learners are not demonstrating proficiency of our HPLS, we devote time and effort to ensure those gaps are closed because these “big rocks” are that important.

In the case of accelerated instruction and enrichment, the design is rooted in the HPLS.  For learners ready to dive deeper into the content, the learning experiences in which they are provided are directly related to the HPLS.  This is because the HPLS are vertically aligned.  This time spent furthering the learning is preparing them for a deeper understanding of our “big rocks”.

Finally, student goal setting and reflection will be guided by the most important content they will learn, the HPLS.  Learner portfolios and reports to parents will be rooted in these most important concepts.  These are what we will look to track and work toward because, again, these standards are our guarantee.


We read in the high level alignment indicators of the Visioning Document Implementation Matrix:

Students learning is based on challenging, meaningful content standards that have been articulated, specified, and described PK-12. Learning standards in all content areas extend beyond the state curriculum including such things as: Ÿ

  • clarification/enhancement of the cognitive demand of the standards Ÿ
  • supports for ensuring that students have access to the full content of the discipline Ÿ
  • identification/clustering of “power” standards to ensure depth over breadth Ÿ
  • communicating linkages across disciplines.



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