Despite the accountability measures put in place by NCLB, teachers should not feel they have to “teach to the test.” Effectively aligning curricula to standards and then institutionally implementing the curricula will keep everyone’s focus on teaching and learning, not “test-prepping.” Follow these steps to support your curriculum teams as they align curricula to standards:
1. “Unpack” both the standards and the existing curricula by developing scope and sequence charts for each program.
2. Using the individual grade level and/or program specific scope and sequence charts, build a “master” topic-based scope and sequence chart that illustrates how unit topics are addressed in each grade level, Grades K-12.
3. Analyze the master topic scope and sequence chart and identify gaps and unnecessary redundancies.
The district instructional leader should hold everyone accountable for implementing the agreed upon scope and sequence charts and curricula in the classroom. Children will have acquired the skills assessed on the test if we have all “stuck to the program.” Teachers don’t have to abide by a “script.” Autonomy and creativity is vital to fostering dynamic classrooms and schools.
Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk on creativity and schools speaks to this point:
We don’t have to kill creativity and inquiry in the classroom. The trick is to get teachers to recognize that implementing curricula that is effectively and dutifully aligned to state and Common Core standards will naturally lead to standardized assessment achievement. This is not to say that some students will not “conform” to the structure of a standardized assessment. They may need to be taught strategies that enable them to effectively illustrate their acquisition of the skills inherent in the standards, but these strategies can be integrated into daily classwork.