For Curriculum Developers
Guidelines for Effective Instruction and Best Practices
A standards-based curriculum should include guidelines for effective
instruction and best practices. We know that teachers who teach with knowledge,
enthusiasm, and passion for their material inspire students. This enthusiasm
increases when teachers learn effective new methods, keep up with the
research, and are provided the time to collaborate with their peers.
Suggested items to address in the curriculum regarding instruction:
Study the Best Practices section for each content area in this web site
and consider your district's needs relative to these suggested strategies.
Review recent research about instruction and evaluate how it can be applied
to your school or classroom. Example: Classroom Instruction that Works:
Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. Marzano,
Robert J., Pickering, Debra J., Pollock, Jane E. 2001. ASCD.
Review curriculum that has been tried and tested in rural and urban Alaskan
classrooms, and design ways of supporting instruction that will reach
all students. Consult Alaska Native
Encourage on-going professional development and research.
- Support teachers who take risks in trying new strategies
- Support the participation of teachers in statewide forums and conferences.
- Promote teacher-leader participation in the consortia and professional
Understand learning styles, multiple intelligences, and other modality-oriented
- Support discussion and working groups around ways to broaden the instructional
approaches beyond the traditional linguistic and mathematical-logical
- Evaluate and discuss the pros and cons of instruction based upon learning-style
Enhance the partnerships between professionals and paraprofessionals.
Provide real world experiences for students that help prepare them for
their future. Support instruction that is based in community-oriented
projects, school-to-work principles, and authentic products. Provide models
of such projects that are purposeful and guided.
Support action-research in your classrooms.
- Create working groups of teachers who are willing to research and
share their ideas with others.
- Encourage opportunities for teachers to receive constructive suggestions
for enhancing the academic value of their projects.
- Promote peer-coaching opportunities that allow teachers to observe
others in the teaching process.
A first step toward effective instruction is to assess students' current
knowledge so that instruction can provide the scaffolding necessary to
bridge prior knowledge with new concepts.
Suggestions and models of assessment
A standards-based curriculum should include suggestions and models of
The six major purposes of assessment (identified by the Alaska Statewide
Assessment Advisory Committee in 1995) are to
- help teachers understand student mastery of concepts, skills, and
attitudes, diagnose assistance where needed, and alter instruction;
- show individual student growth and progress over time;
- report to parents about students' progress and achievements;
- compare student achievement with other same-age students nationally
- evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum/school program; and
- communicate to the public what we value in education.
Teachers must use multiple measures and diverse avenues of expression
to continuously assess the current knowledge of students. Teachers need
to know exactly when a student becomes confused, and they need to be committed
to providing alternative experiences to help the student understand. Assessment
and instruction often become indistinguishable because the assessment
activities are an immediate and integral component of instruction.
High quality, classroom-based assessment provides useful information
that can clarify and guide instructional decisions for students, parents,
and teachers. An assessment program should be able to provide information
to a variety of audiences-students, teachers and parents, but also the
school, the district, the state, and others-about the attainment of critical
educational goals. No one indicator or type of assessment tool is adequate
to meet all of the potential needs for information or to demonstrate the
attainment of the Alaska content standards.
Different types of assessment have very different effects on the person
or persons being assessed, and they show different strata of what that
person knows or can do. Some types of assessment are more appropriate
for students with different learning styles than others.
Assessment used in classrooms across the state should:
- include multiple forms,
- link assessment to real world tasks and
- give students an opportunity to experience assessment which is embedded
in instruction (as opposed to the "separate" test)
Assessment professionals should work hand in hand with classroom teachers
to develop the technical characteristics of good alternatives in assessment
across the various content areas (e.g., portfolio and performance assessment).
Three dimensions of consistency affect the quality and value of assessment.
Consistency over time.
How many samples of one student's work need to be collected to know how
well he or she writes? Emerging research on performance assessment, for
example, indicates that somewhere between 8 and 16 trials of student performance
may be necessary in order to obtain a reliable judgment.
Consistency from student to student.
Does the assessment trigger the same dimensions of performance again and
again with different students? If not, the assessment cannot be said to
be reliable for any type of group testing.
Consistency of raters.
Do judges looking for the same dimensions of performance see them consistently
across the raters themselves? Would two people with the same criteria
for judging rate the same student performance differently?
The Alaska performance assessments are instructional tools that can provide
valuable input into the instructional needs of students and can also provide
the state with comparative data. Standardization reduces subjectivity
in assessment and increases credibility. Commercially purchased norm referenced
tests are language-based and assess skills. Performance assessments are
better suited for assessing the standards but also need to be standardized
as well, for the same reasons. Scoring guides should identify criteria
that are understood through the use of concrete examples.
Suggested items to address in the curriculum regarding assessment:
Review the Assessment sections in each content area of this web site
and determine the needs of your district relative to these expectations.
Create an educational culture, based on a partnership of school, students,
parents, and community, that insists upon multiple measures of what students
know and are able to do before making placement decisions about students.
Provide staff development that covers the broad range of assessment strategies
and provides examples in familiar contexts.
- Provide opportunities for teachers to work together to develop and
discuss a variety of assessments.
- Expect teachers to rely on assessments to provide a clear picture
of their students' prior knowledge before planning instruction.
- Model effective assessment techniques in district activities.
Develop ways to help teachers embed their assessment record keeping into
their instruction through strategies such as observation checklists.
Evaluate and improve the assessments being used in your district. Consider
questions such as those asked by the Philadelphia School District:
- Do the assessment strategies ask the students to apply basic skills,
think critically, and solve problems? Do they involve 'real life' applications?
- Are there varied methods to assess students' process, performance,
and understanding of content?
- How do district and state mandated assessments, such as the TerraNova,
link to daily assessment practices?
- What assessment accommodations can be made to ensure that all students
have equal opportunity to demonstrate what they know and are able to