Our work toward creating the Vision includes the establishment and implementation of a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Such a curriculum includes a narrowed, succinct focus on a specified set of standards which require endurance, leverage, and readiness for the next level. In addition, within this curriculum, there exists articulation of what evidence of proficiency to these standards looks like. This specificity does not restrict opportunities for teacher and student creativity and impact to a greater global audience. Rather, these clarified standards are what we ensure all students can do in order to make that difference – it is our promise to them.
Our goal, as articulated in the Framework for Vision-Driven Instruction and Leadership, reads:
Contents standards have been linked, translated and clarified into curriculum tools that support teachers and students in creating challenging and motivating learning experiences/tasks. Curricular tools include supports such as lesson exemplars, annotated models of student work, samples of rigorous tasks, opportunities for student choice, project/product rubrics, professional development and professional collaboration related to the successful implementation.
These assurances, referred to as High Priority Learning Standards are first identified. Then, next steps include linking, translating, and clarifying these into curriculum tools. This work requires a big picture, vertically-aligned vision as well as a keen sense of attention to detail. The outcome of this work should direct all teachers and students in a district to focus in a consistent way on those standards. The clarification of these standards serves as a support to promote equitable access to the content across the district. Regardless of the campus or teacher, the students are assured high quality opportunities to learn with a focus on that content which has been identified as providing endurance, leverage, and readiness for the next level.
Knowing this work is grounded in Article II: The New Learning Standards, we recognize:
II.a Standards should be clear, attainable, and high enough to provide for a system of student performance variance where all can experience success and challenge.
II.g Content standards should serve as frameworks that assist teachers and students in creating learning experiences that motivate student success.
II.i Guidance should be given to teachers’ daily work so they can make the content standards clear and compelling to their students for each unit of focus.
I recommend a tool provided by Solution Tree, referred to as the Essential Standards Chart. An example of the use of an adjusted version of this chart is below.
Notice the first column includes a description of the standard. This description supports equity of access to the content so that variances in interpretation of the standards across teachers and campuses are minimized.
Also, note the prerequisite skills and extension standards (columns 2 and 6) stitch the progression of learning together, directing instructional decisions for students not showing proficiency (prerequisite) or students ready to move on (extensions).
The fourth column ties to the scope and sequence documents of the curriculum, noting when this High Priority Learning Standard is included in the instructional plan.
Finally, the sample assessment description includes clarification of what tools should be used (base ten blocks), what questions should be asked, and what scale of number (according to the standard) should be used to assess the students on this standard.
Developing these clarification documents is only one step in the work. Communication and follow up is key to implementation in the classroom.
In what ways are you working to link, translate and clarify the High Priority Learning Standards into your curriculum tools? I challenge you to consider the value of this work.