Component Overview: Curriculum Preparation

The Curriculum Preparation component provides guidance to help organizations plan for and implement ongoing review and revision of standards-based curriculum resources.

What is curriculum?

Curriculum includes the resources that teachers use in instruction to support student learning, including assessments. These resources may include:

· Scope and sequence documents, unit plans, organization developed online repositories

· Textbooks, supplemental materials, manipulatives, lab materials, videos,

· Technology delivered resources, including Internet sites, software, simulations, and data collection devices

· Formative and summative assessments, including organization developed common assessments

Why is curriculum preparation necessary?

One focus of continuous improvement of curriculum is ongoing attention to the alignment of curriculum, assessments, and instruction to standards. We know that “having standards is not enough to ensure improved student achievement. Unless teachers can translate the standards into actual classroom practice in terms of what and how they teach and how they assess student mastery, standards will have no effect on student learning” (Burns 2001.). In other words, an important consideration in a standards-based education system is the need for curriculum materials that support the instructional practices that are being implemented.

In some organizations, curriculum revision is an occasional activity catalyzed by the adoption of updated academic standards. These resources can facilitate that work, and are also intended to support continuous improvement of curriculum in the context of a standards-based education system.

What guidance does the Portal provide for curriculum preparation?

The following actions can help leadership teams plan for the “intentional and systemic design of four key elements of the educational system” (National Research Council, 2002): curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development. As the National Research Council points out, while these are often thought of and addressed separately, “in practice they work together synergistically and need to be aligned in mutually supportive ways. Without such alignment and interdependence, deep conceptual understanding is more difficult to achieve.”

1. Develop plans for curriculum development and/or alignment.

2. Develop curriculum planning tools for supporting standards and instruction.

3. Develop a process for creating standards-based assessments.


Burns, R. (2001). Curriculum Mapping. A chapter in the ASCD Curriculum Handbook. Alexandria, VA: ASCD (Link to an Overview).

National Research Council (2002). Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.