NHISD Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
The mission of the NHISD Curriculum and Instruction Department is to work with administrators and teachers to provide and support:
• a guaranteed and viable curriculum
• best practices in assessment and instruction
• job embedded professional development
• Provide a quality standards-based curriculum that is vertically and horizontally aligned grades K-12
• Ensure a common curriculum-based assessment program that will help teachers determine student progress and achievement
• Provide teachers with the tools and skills needed to regularly analyze student achievement data
• Provide staff development that supports teachers in the delivery of high quality instruction
A Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum
In researching what works in schools, Robert Marzano (2003) found five school-level factors that promote student achievement. Ultimately, Marzano concluded that a guaranteed and viable curriculum is the most powerful school-level factor in determining overall student achievement.
If we truly have a guaranteed and viable curriculum it means that, in our schools:
• No matter who teaches a given course or grade level, we guarantee that topics identified in the curriculum will be covered in every class.
• The content that teachers are expected to address can be covered in the time available.
• Every student, in every class, every day, will be taught the same essential knowledge and skills- the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). (Marzano, 2003)
North Hopkins ISD currently uses the TEKS Resource System (TRS),which is a systematic K-12 curriculum model designed, maintained, and continuously developed by various Education Service Center personnel along with district educators throughout Texas. The purpose is to provide a common language structure, and process for curriculum development. The curriculum model is designated to align the written, taught, and tested curriculum and is inclusive of research and best practices as mentioned in the work of Drucker, Demming, English, Wiggins, Erickson, Guskey,Marzano, Feurstein, and Jacobs. Each year, the documents will continue to be aligned to the TEKS utilizing the continuous improvement process as a model for the resources offered to member districts.
According to Marzano, students have the opportunity to learn when they study a curriculum that clearly articulates required standards of achievements. The curriculum components North Hopkins ISD teachers use are based on best practice models from top researchers and enable teachers to align instruction to meet the rigor and complexity required by the TEKS. Therefore, in order to ensure this alignment occurs, North Hopkins ISD teachers are required to reference the Vertical Alignment Documents, the Year at a Glance, the TEKS Verification Documents, and the Instructional Focus Documents all of which foster reflective practice and collegial, data-driven dialogue around curriculum.
Vertical Alignment Documents
The Vertical Alignment Documents present clearly articulated and aligned standards among grade levels using the TEKS statements and student expectations. According to Marzano's framework, curriculum is guaranteed if districts give clear guidance to teachers regarding the content to be addressed in specific courses and at specific grade levels. Marzano(2003) is a strong advocate of a conceptually-organized curriculum that is clearly articulated within periods of time or across grade levels. He stresses that effective curriculum should emphasize key spiraling components. These components represent the major competencies, ideas, and skills that students are expected to revisit within and across grade levels with growing levels of competence, proficiency, and depth of understanding.
In addition, the specificity of the Vertical Alignment Documents provides a common language and delineation of skills whichenables building principals to meet their responsibility of ensuring that the curriculum is being implemented accurately and consistently in every classroom.
The specificity of the Vertical Alignment Documents also gives educators a tangible guide for selecting and reliably evaluating programs, textbooks, and instructional materials in terms of how effectively they meet curriculum objectives.
Year at a Glance
The Year at a Glance is designed to present a snapshot of the entire year's instructional plan. The Year at a Glance is a map and pacing guide for units of study. It makes the curriculum viable by ensuring that the teacher has adequate instructional time to present the required content.
Curriculum Mapping is a process for documenting the plan for curriculum delivery over a specified period of time. The current curriculum mapping model is based on the work of Heidi Hayes Jacobs (2004). To gain insight into gaps, absences, and repetitions in a school or district K-12 curriculum, it is critical to create quality maps. The Year at a Glance, as a curriculum map, provides a springboard for teachers and administrators to focus discussion on a comparison between what is planned and what is really occurring in individual classrooms.
TEKS Verification Document
The TEKS Verification Document in combination with the Year at a Glance ensures that all TEKS are taught throughout the school year. The document lists all the TEKS and details the nine week period or periods that the specific standard is solely taught or that it is taught in an on-going manner.
Instructional Focus Documents
The standards should not be taught alone and should be logically bundled to maximize student learning. The Instructional Focus Documents are used to group the specified standards from the Vertical Alignment Documents and the Year at a Glance into a logical sequence for instruction to maximize student learning.
These documents present the standards that are taught in each block of instruction, the academic language of instruction, key understandings, guiding questions, possible student misconceptions, and performance indicators to ensure that the standards are attained at the required level of rigor.
The purpose of District-Developed Assessments is to ensure the complete alignment of the written, taught, and tested curriculum in order to drive instruction and to continuously improve the academic progress of all students. Assessments aligned to the curriculum are Curriculum-Based Assessments (CBA). The District will develop the assessments using a TEKS-aligned bank of items that have been reviewed for quality. Elementary CBAs are assessments that cover the TEKS addressed in the Scope and Sequence for a specified period of the course. Secondary District-Developed, Curriculum-Based Assessments (Unit Tests/Nine Week Tests/Semester Exams) are summative assessments that are designed to assess student mastery of the prescribed curriculum objectives for a grading period based on the needs of each core area.
SUMMARY OF CURRICULUM
The Year at a Glance, Vertical Alignment Documents, TEKS Verification Documents, Instructional Focus Documents and Curriculum-Based Assessments comprise most of the North Hopkins ISD curriculum documents. These documents provide a consistent scope and sequence for instructional delivery and are the foundation for all instructional planning.
The curriculum itself is non-negotiable since we are legally bound as educators to implement the state standards. However, the actual journey that teachers plan with their students may look quite different in that it will be responsive to differing student interests and abilities.