October 24, 2012 14:06 Age: 5 yrs

However, Some Curricula Are Better Than Others (Part II of II)

Category: Home, Doug McCurry, News

This is the second part of Co-CEO and Superintendent Doug McCurry's post about teachers and curricula. Read Part I here.

In schools that have closed the achievement gap, there is a remarkable similarity of curricula. All these curricula are intensely standards-based and aligned to clear scopes and sequences. High-performing schools, from their inception, have a clear message for teachers: first, teach the state standards to absolute mastery. Clearly, there is more to a student’s education than mastery of state standards, but these standards provide a clear minimum bar that all students must master.

Both the Thernstroms’ book and another book with a similar title, No Excuses: Lessons from 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools, highlight common elements among the curricula of every urban school that has closed the achievement gap. All of the schools profiled have a standards-based curriculum with clearly defined goals for teachers and students. Many use a standards-based curriculum of their own design or a structured, research-based curriculum.

What does this mean for Achievement First? We have done extensive research to find the best curricula, visiting high-performing schools, talking to experts and curriculum representatives, and reading the research literature. Through this process, we have picked or developed curricula that have proven track records of producing dramatic student achievement. We do not believe in taking chances with children's futures. Instead, we have chosen the best curricula and we will invest extensively in the professional development of our teachers so that they know it well. A great curriculum combined with the knowledge and skill of a master teacher is a winning combination.