Total Instructional Alignment: From Standards to Student Success

Views: 551
Ratings: (0)

This book is a teachers' and administrators' guide for implementing and sustaining an educational system that ensures students are taught and learn what is required by benchmarks, assessments, and state standards, and to the learning needs of each individual student. This is accomplished by providing a tight alignment between the intended, taught, and tested curricula.

List price: $23.99

Your Price: $19.19

You Save: 20%

 

7 Slices

Format Buy Remix

Chapter 1: What Is Total Instructional Alignment?

ePub

Have you ever overheard two doctors discussing a medical issue? They use terms with which we are totally unfamiliar, but they seem to understand one another clearly and are able to communicate their thoughts very freely. Most professions have this type of common language that allows practitioners to communicate with one another about the concepts in their field. Educators, however, have developed only a very limited ability to do this. For whatever reason, educators do not seem to have this kind of precise professional vocabulary when it comes to instruction. Half a dozen terms may be used to refer to a single idea, or one common “buzz phrase” can be applied to a number of concepts that are barely related.

“Alignment” is one such word that has entered the jargon of education without any widespread agreement as to its precise meaning. In training sessions, I will often ask principals and teachers to work in small groups to develop a common definition of the term “instructional alignment.” Although they all claim to be familiar with the term, they often struggle within their groups to come to consensus on its definition. And I have yet to see two groups yield definitions that are the same. Their definitions often include parts of the alignment process, but it is clear that there is no common understanding of what alignment is and how it works.

 

Chapter 2: Aligning the System

ePub

Most educators first learned about the birth of our nation’s system of public schools in their Foundations in American Education 101 class in college. Among other things, we learned that Horace Mann was credited with founding the first public schools in America. These schools were created on the fundamental belief that everyone was entitled to a free and appropriate education. The idea of educating everyone was an awesome task.

When the first public schools were created in this country, roughly half of the population made a living through agriculture (Economic Research Service, 2000). Children were often expected to work alongside adults on the family farm. Therefore, the school system would have to be designed to cause as little interference as possible with the farming schedule. The schedule that seemed to cause the least disruption to this way of life had students beginning the school year in the fall, after the final harvest. School would remain in session until early spring, when the children would again be needed on the farm for the planting season. Thus, the school calendar included 8 or 9 months of schooling with 3 or 4 months off during the summer.

 

Chapter 3: Aligning Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment

ePub

The dog lesson from the introduction is a not-so-subtle reminder of the problems we may encounter when curriculum and assessment are not properly aligned. I really like teaching the dog lesson during my training sessions, and participants seem to enjoy it. They commend me for being prepared, engaging everyone, using visuals, inserting humor into the lesson, teaching to different learning styles, and using effective teaching strategies. This great lesson, however, does not usually bring about great results on the dog test.

What if I added some new teaching innovations to the dog lesson? I could use state-of-the-art technology to teach the lesson, create a brain-compatible environment, use dynamic instructional grouping based on detailed running records—the list goes on and on. But would this impact scores on the dog test? No, because these cutting-edge instructional methods, as important as they are in our classrooms, cannot correct my content errors.

The dog lesson does not yield successful results for one simple reason: I have not aligned what I am teaching and what I am assessing. No matter how well I teach, the best the participants—all college-educated teachers and administrators—typically can do on the dog test is an average score of 50%. New innovations will not increase scores; they can only be effective if I am teaching what I am testing. And this alignment is even more critical than ever before considering the importance of assessment in the lives of today’s students.

 

Chapter 4: Aligning Instruction

ePub

Many schools and districts have devoted a small fortune in human, material, and financial resources to aligning standards, curriculum, and assessment through the development of aligned curriculum documents. All this work, however, will make little difference if it does not impact instruction at the classroom level. We all know that what happens when the classroom door closes and the teacher begins instruction is what ultimately matters the most.

Before the onset of standards, teachers could teach whatever they thought was important for their students to learn. For example, as a beginning teacher, my favorite social studies unit was one on service jobs (what we called “community helpers,” such as police officers, firemen, doctors, and nurses). I developed this unit during a university teaching methods class. I invested many hours in the development of that unit, and I had a wealth of materials to accompany it. I enjoyed teaching it, and the students seemed to enjoy learning about community helpers. In retrospect, I am really not certain that the goals I established in the unit were actually part of the local district curriculum for first-grade students; however, it did not matter at the time. There was no focus on accountability as there is today, no designated testing program designed to measure whether or not students met certain predetermined learning goals.

 

Chapter 5: Aligning Assessment

ePub

How do teachers determine that students have learned those things we expect them to learn? Assessment plays a critical role in the Total Instructional Alignment process because it helps us determine what essential learning students have mastered and where they need to go next in the learning process. All too often, assessment results are reviewed briefly and then condemned to a filing cabinet. This data, however, can provide valuable information about student progress and the effectiveness of instruction. It is time that student assessment data comes out of file drawers and into the light of day where it can help students learn.

It is important to understand that there are actually two ways to view assessment. One view is that the primary purpose of assessment is to assist in what is known as the “sort and select” mission of the school. Those who embrace this function place a heavy emphasis on using test scores to grade, rank, label, and track students, sorting them into homogeneous groupings based on test scores. The other view is that the primary purpose of assessment is to help us gain important information about student learning so that we can adjust instruction to meet individual student needs. The Effective Schools research by Lawrence Lezotte and his colleagues shows that highly successful schools view assessment as a tool that allows them to gain valuable information about where students are in the process of learning—not as a tool to sort and select students. This information is used to adjust the instructional program to meet the needs of individual students. In fact, Lezotte identifies “Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress” as one of the seven correlates of effective schools. By definition, “In the effective school student academic progress is measured frequently through a variety of assessment procedures. The results . . . are used to improve individual student performance and also to improve the instructional program” (Lezotte & McKee, 2002, p. 207).

 

Chapter 6: Leadership and Change

ePub

Educators who have been around for a while know that change is constant in education. While some of these changes have been positive, many of them have been practically meaningless. As a result, some teachers have come to view new educational initiatives with caution and skepticism. Often, initiatives are seen as just “this year’s new thing.” As a result, educators often suffer from what I refer to as TTSP (“This too shall pass”) syndrome. Instead of becoming engaged in the initiative, these educators choose to step back and wait out the change. To be successful, Total Instructional Alignment cannot become another flavor of the month. It is a meaningful change with proven success that will truly make a difference and positively impact student learning.

As school leaders know, positive, lasting change does not happen by chance. Someone has to provide the vision, the direction, and the energy to keep the boat from slipping back to the same old course. Leadership is the key to successful implementation of the Total Instructional Alignment process.

 

References and Additional Resources

ePub

Abbott, S. (1997). Standardized testing. Westminster, CA: Teacher Created Materials, Inc.

Block, P. (1991). The empowered manager. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Block, P. (1993). Stewardship. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Bloom, B. S. (1976). Human characteristics and school learning. New York: McGraw Hill.

Brookover, W. B. (1996). Creating effective schools (Rev. ed.). Holmes Beach, FL: Learning Publications.

Carroll, J. B. (1963). A model for school learning. Teachers College Record, 64, 723–733.

Covey, S. (1990). The 7 habits of highly effective people. New York: Free Press.

Covey, S. (1992). Principle centered leadership. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Covey, S. (1994). First things first. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Cummings, C. (1990). Teaching makes a difference. Edmond, WA: Teaching, Inc.

Cummings, C. (1996). Managing to teach (2nd ed.). Edmond, WA: Teaching, Inc.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub (DRM)
Encrypted
true
Sku
2370003851472
Isbn
9781934009918
File size
0 Bytes
Printing
Disabled
Copying
Disabled
Read aloud
No
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata