High School

Theme - Curriculum and Academic Goals

Best Practices

  • Collaborative development of goals and consistency between district, school, and classroom goals related to increasing student mastery and closing achievement gaps.
  • Continual revision of strategic plans aligned with goals and a shared vision of success.

In higher-performing schools, goals are shared and strategic plans are widely understood to guide instruction and new initiatives. Goals focus on raising the numbers of students achieving at the mastery level, completing their coursework with their cohorts, and closing achievement gaps. The process of developing a vision, mission, and goals is generally a collaborative one involving students, parents, and community members.

Furthermore, the goals are informed by a wide variety of data that are closely interpreted for student performance and community demographic trends. The curriculum is viewed as a living document that most higher performers have already mapped and continually revise. The curriculum includes an array of electives designed to tap student interest as well as increase the number of AP and honors courses to serve increasing numbers of students being encouraged and supported to enroll in them.

Some differences between higher- and average-performing schools

In average-performing schools, goals are more often developed top-down, which impacts the degree to which a coherent sense of what success looks like and how to achieve it can guide teachers’ and administrators’ work.

Curriculum maps are more likely to be in process or on the horizon and in general, perceived constraints (financial, social, etc.) negatively impact expectations for student performance overall.

Selected Evidence:

Honeoye Falls-Lima has a well articulated strategic plan, including commitments and strategic intents. The High School’s School Improvement Goals specify which strategic intents each addresses, as do individual department’s input into budget development.

The strategic plan for White Plains includes both objectives and "delimiters" (things they will NOT do) based upon input from community members, board members, students, teachers, and administrators. It is seen as a "blueprint" for specific action plans and steps to target efforts for improvement.

In South Kortright, setting and meeting goals and objectives is a central focus and one that is continually monitored through the collection of a variety of evidence. This process exemplifies the ways evidence and the strategic allocation of resources is enacted.

Greene has developed binders to assist with vertical alignment of the curriculum, K-12. This binder focuses on key objectives and concepts, NYS standards met, suggested classroom activities and methods of assessment, and resources.

Honeoye Falls-Lima HS provides parents with a year-at-a-glance for each grade and subject.

Levittown requires 27 credits for graduation, 3 more than the state; this keeps high school students fully scheduled.

Many higher-performing schools, both large and small, have moved to keep students in district for career and technical programs, alternative education, and GED. This example comes from Levittown.