Focus on Instruction
Maintain a consistent focus on improving instruction.
The Enacted CurriculumJoseph F. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D.
National Center for Urban School Transformation
Listen to Dr. Joseph Johnson discuss how high-performing schools align curricula to state standards, teach the content with a focus on student learning, and prioritize core content to improve student learning. (3:45 min)
- Examine school-level data.
- School staff can examine student achievement data to identify areas of weakness for the school, establish priorities for instruction, and make changes in those priority areas to improve teaching and learning. Schools used these data to focus their improvement efforts on specific programs and classes.
- Examine classroom-level data.
- The school can look at classroom-level data to identify teachers’ strengths and professional development needs and strategize needed steps to improve instruction. The schools developed systems to help teachers understand and use the data to guide their teaching, disaggregating data to indicate specific areas of weakness in instruction.
- Examine student-level data.
- At the student level, data were used to plan instruction to meet individual needs. Teachers modified instruction to meet the needs of all students, address gaps in student learning, and provide intervention instruction for those students who needed additional support.
- Focus professional development on the areas of greatest need.
- Arrange for targeted professional development based on analysis of achievement and instruction, and provide individualized professional development plans for each teacher and subject that needs special attention. Schools may also provide job-embedded professional development, such as a full-time reading or mathematics coach; teachers can model lessons for colleagues, observe them teaching, and provide structured feedback; external technical assistance providers can visit the school regularly and provide support to teachers; and/or teachers can attend specialized learning academies.
- Conduct a curriculum review.
- Have staff work together to review the curriculum for alignment with state and local standards to ensure all standards are being adequately addressed in instruction. Teachers may need to modify or supplement the curriculum to address all standards. As part of this alignment, teachers can ensure assessments address the standards.
- Track progress and make adjustments.
- Ensure that school leaders and teachers monitor progress regularly and systematically make adjustments to strengthen teaching and student learning. Principals can take the lead in monitoring progress by making daily or frequent classroom walk-throughs, reviewing lesson plans, and critiquing lessons. Teachers can work in teams and with the administration to monitor student progress and identify students who need additional support.