• Common Curriculum and Assessment Project Overview


    Marzano’s What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action (2003) and School Leadership That Works (2005) presents research that identifies factors at the school (and district) level that have a positive impact on student achievement. Factors are categorized into school-level factors, teacher-level factors, and student-level factors. School-level factors include a guaranteed and viable curriculum and challenging goals and effective feedback. Based on this research, Currituck County Schools began work on creating a “minimum standard” for delivering a guaranteed curriculum that is aligned with NC Standards and common assessments (for providing effective feedback) for each core subject/course at each grade level. 


    As the district and schools further the development of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) in all schools and at the district level, focus continues to remain on the essential questions that are critical to the function of PLCs:

    ·        What do students NEED TO LEARN?

    ·        What evidence will we gather to monitor student learning—how will we know WHEN THEY HAVE LEARNED IT?

    ·        What will we do if/when students EXPERIENCE DIFFICULTY IN THEIR LEARNING? 


    ·        How can we use our SMART goals and evidence of student learning to INFORM and IMPROVE OUR PRACTICE?


    In 2010, teams of teachers began designing curriculum frameworks and district wide common assessments based on the NC Standard Course of Study for all core areas(Reading/Writing, Math, Science, and Social Studies) that all teachers implemented according to a common timeline and used the data to inform instruction. 


    During the summer of 2011, Phase II began bringing teams back together to not only revise these draft tools, but to begin integrating Essential Standards and Common Core Standards into the frameworks as part of the Race to the Top and ACRE initiative.  Essential Standards and Common Core Standards were fully implemented and assessed beginning in 2012-13.   We are now into our sixth year of this curriculum review process.  Materials and guides posted by grade and subject reflect many hours of work by teachers selected to be part of the curriculum revision team over the summer.  

    As in Phase I and II, these revised frameworks and pacing guides are considered draft documents.  As a means of embracing “continuous improvement” in the area of curriculum delivery, PLCs will meet periodically throughout the school year to review standards, frameworks, and assessment results; refining documents and timelines where necessary.  The review process will continue each school year, integrating new teaching and assessment resources provided by DPI and focusing on the district's common instructional practices goals.  Documents have been posted to the website through Google docs, which can be downloaded for use, and editing (for feedback purposes).  The curriculum guide and assessment process is a cycle that will enable us to continuously evaluate our pacing, teaching, and student learning as we learn more about effective practices.

    Common Instructional Framework:

    As part of our continuous improvement plan and our goal for developing 21st century classrooms that produce "Career and College READY" students, a Common Instructional Framework is being developed with and for teachers to implement in their classrooms. This process and framework will align with the district's implementation of MTSS (Multi-tiered Systems of Support, as we work to define our core instruction.  Teachers will  plan according to the common instructional framework (i.e., whole group, small group, and individual work) and intentionally use instructional practices that focus on being student centered, data-driven, collaborative, and personalized. Ensuring that students are taught and learn at a rigorous level is essential to improving overall student achievement.

    "Our goal is to teach and assess skills students will need to be productive and successful learners, workers, and globally aware citizens."        Students will be:

    • Growth minded and academically prepared;

    • Effective communicators and collaborators; and

    • Critical thinkers and problem solvers.

    Common Understandings for Implementing Curriculum

    The teams worked to create unit frameworks with the following understandings in mind:

    • The “Understanding by Design” philosophy and stages of planning for learning (Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe);
    • The need to create broad planning structures that allow for teacher/school individuality in material selection and lesson plan implementation;
    • The role of Essential Questions in sparking and using inquiry as an instructional method;
    • The process of Continuous Improvement;
    • The role of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy in designing lessons and assessments;
    • The purpose and use of Formative Assessments vs. Summative Assessments;
    • The purpose of Common Assessments;
    • The role and importance of writing as a part of instruction and assessment;
    • The role and importance of aligning our teaching and assessments with the state assessments our students' proficiency will be measured against.
    • The need to create broad planning structures that allow for teacher/school individuality in material selection and lesson plan implementation.

    Teachers using the materials created need to approach using these tools with the following understandings in mind:

     Teachers are expected to implement the district's curriculum and pacing guides provided;

    • All materials posted for use in the 2016-17 school year are WORKING DRAFTS (Feedback opportunities will be given to teachers working through their individual PLCs throughout the school year to make suggestions for improving the documents and materials);
    • Common Assessments will assess the objectives noted in the pacing guide;
    • Many objectives are taught and then reinforced/enhanced throughout the year, especially in Reading and Math—placement on the pacing guide and in the unit guides are to be formally assessed, but revisited throughout the course;  
    • Text selections for teaching reading/literature strategies and processes are to be based on available titles, student choice and “Good Fit” books, and content integration opportunities;  NC ELA Standards Appendix B and C provide exemplar texts and annotated student writing samples which can be used by all teachers;
    • Integration is strongly encouraged to assist with students’ understanding connections and real world application of content being taught;
    • PLCs will work collaboratively to create the daily/weekly lesson plan details.

    Roles and Responsibilities

    During the process for implementing, gathering feedback and making improvements to our pacing, units, and assessment design, teachers and administrators have distinct roles and responsibilities.


    In sum, Administrators will drive, facilitate and support the success of this curriculum project by engaging in the following:

    • Share information with staff on the purpose, use, and responsibilities for working as a PLC to implement units and pacing by designing lessons that align with the pacing and unit frameworks.
    • Monitor the work of the PLCs and teachers as the implement plans, and the assessment results generated by common assessments.
    • Assist with scheduling assessments, reviewing and analyzing results, and developing intervention plans or extension activities for students based on the data.
    • Use the data to evaluate needs of staff and facilitate discussions based on the data and needs identified.
    • Respect the process established.
    • Ensure teachers have time to meet, discuss, and plan using the frameworks.
    • Create a system/process for monitoring PLCs and work products (collect PLC artifacts and feedback).
    • Be supportive of the project (be the voice, value the work, and display our support).
    • Be involved in PLCs and facilitate discussions when necessary.
    • Empower team participants to share knowledge and experience with others.
    • Set expectations and standards aligned with these guidelines. 


    • Keep students’ best interest in mind, differentiating instruction and adjusting instructional presentation to help achieve mastery. 
    • Accept draft ideas (keep an open mind) and implement as established.
    • Be willing to share resources, ideas, thoughts, products, and processes.
    • Demonstrate commitment to process. (examples: products, PLC artifacts)
    • Create lesson plans based on the pacing guide and unit frameworks.
    • Follow through with plans and assessment data (providing feedback to students).
    • Provide specific feedback to the district on the pacing and unit frameworks.


    Thanks to all the hard working teachers and administrators who have contributed to this project!

Last Modified on August 14, 2016