In our high-stakes testing and accountability environment, academic success is rooted in students’ mastery of the state standards. State standards dictate what students must know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. Preparing all students with the content knowledge and skills contained in the standards requires campus and district leaders to be focused on aligning instruction with the state standards.
Have you built a culture of standards alignment in your district/on your campus? Consider your answers to these questions:
- Does the district have a written curriculum to guide implementation of the standards?
- Does the district curriculum communicate the level of student performance that demonstrates mastery of the standards?
- Do central office curriculum staff provide training and support to help educators understand the standards deeply?
- Do professional learning communities’ (PLCs) discussions focus on teaching and assessing mastery of the standards?
- Do teachers use the standards to guide what they want students to accomplish in each of their lessons?
- Do campus and district administrators focus on standards alignment during classroom observations?
- Do campus support staff (i.e., instructional coaches, resource/pull-out-teachers) provide guidance and/or assistance to classroom teachers to support differentiation and intervention?
- Before providing remedial support for struggling students, do campus support staff have planning time with the student’s teacher to support continuity of instruction?
- Is assessment data analyzed to inform instruction, professional development, and curriculum updates?
For some students, standards mastery will come easily and keeping them engaged will require more rigorous instruction and activities. For others, meeting the requirements of the standards will require daily struggle and additional support. The goal of preparing all students to progress to the next grade level may sound routine but in reality, it requires herculean effort by teachers and campus and district leaders. Building a culture of standards-alignment will ensure that everyone is rowing in the same direction for the next school year.