Critical Needs Elementary

Theme - Curriculum and Academic Goals

Best Practices

  • Goals are aligned from classroom to district, and goal-setting is a collaborative process.
  • Within each building teachers feel that they are working toward shared goals and collaborate extensively to achieve those goals.
  • The goals for student achievement apply to all students, including English learners and those with special needs.

In districts both large and small, goal setting usually begins at the district level, but it involves input from all levels and is very much informed by the experiences of teachers and building administrators as well as the needs of the student population. Expectations for all students are to stretch to their highest potentials. An expectation for fidelity to the curriculum is widely held in these districts; however, educators at the building level have support and flexibility to enact that curriculum in ways that are adapted to critical needs students.

Some differences between higher- and average-performing schools

Educators in the higher-performing schools voice a greater sense of shared vision and goals for not only their students but their school and district. When they find a gap in the curriculum, they suggest programs or approaches that can close that gap and are then able to act on their recommendations. In striving to meet high academic goals for all students, teachers, specialists, and administrators work together to support individual students to meet high expectations.

In average-performing schools, goal setting is more likely to be a “pyramid” process: goals are aligned from district to school to classroom, but overall goals are not shaped through dialog between levels. Academic goals for critical needs students are more likely stated in terms of “growth” and students “meeting their full potential” rather than “rigorous expectations for reaching the highest levels of academic achievement possible”.

Selected Evidence

In Valley Central, the goal setting-progress monitoring cycle  is clearly articulated, and goals, indicators, and progress for district and school levels shared with the community. In Pine Bush (Pakanasink), administrators from across the district propose district-level goals on a three-year cycle that clearly focus on individual student learning. These goals are then incorporated into individual building plans. And in Mount Vernon, the Lincoln School's "Recipe for Success" shares goals and implementation strategies for raising achievement and closing the gap.

In Valley Stream 30, a Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Council (CIAC) of teachers and curriculum chairs meets regularly with a top administrator to work on goals that are aligned with overall goals set by the board, as seen in this agenda from June 2011. 

At Columbus Elementary, teachers work together and with curriculum facilitators during grade-level meetings to map the curriculum. See sample for Grade 1 ELA. At the district level, curriculum outlines in both English and Spanish are posted on the district website.

The principal at Columbus closed a memo to staff with a clear articulation of the ultimate goal of the school's curriculum and instruction for its very diverse student population.

                                                                                                                   Last updated or reviewed 7/19/2012