A K-12 plan for delivering curriculum content and skills starts with development of a district vision. Rather than framing curricula around textbooks or strictly binding content and skills to standards, teams of curriculum developing teachers should identify what they expect their students to learn and master by the end of each school year and, ultimately, by the end of their learning career in the district. Establishing “Mastery Skills Lists” (some district refer to such lists as “Essential Skills Lists”) allows for two things: 1. Establishment of norms to live by that will guide adoption of a textbook program aligned with the district’s norms. 2. Creation of the foundation upon which the scope and sequence charts for each grade level program can be built.
While these mastery skill lists start with the teacher’s expectations, it is imperative that they reflect the state or national standards and various state-level requirements. A three-hour curriculum development session will have K-12 openly discussing and listing their expectations first. Then, the team should “unpack” the standards and miscellaneous regulations and insert them in the lists as necessary. What should result is a bullet-point list of skills that flow from grade level to grade level.
Besides aiding in the adoption of textbook resources and the development of scope and sequence charts, the construction of mastery skill lists also provides a student performance system that informs teachers, students, and parents about the learning goals for each grade. Coupled with a “Student Learning Profile” that lists all of the grade-level mastery skills, a tracking system for student achievement of the skills can be implemented alongside other formative assessment data.