Essential Curriculum

Updates: May 2016

Common Language & Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding that curriculum development is a dynamic and continuous process reliant upon regular revision, teams of teachers continue to develop and revise the WCPS Essential Curriculum with a focus on student understanding. Throughout the process, we are using a common language to communicate about the work and have a WCPS Essential Curriculum FAQs document for additional clarification. These may be a helpful tools to understand the intentions of the curriculum.

WCPS Essential Curriculum Blueprint

The WCPS Essential Curriculum is being developed with the end in mind, as an understanding-focused curriculum for students in prekindergarten through grade 12. The WCPS Essential Curriculum Blueprint is a vision that guides unit and lesson planning so that student learning is coherent and connected within and across the grades. The blueprint is divided into three sections. The red portion describes the overall county level supports, including our transdisciplinary transfer goals focused on creativity and curiosity, the disciplinary transfer goals, overarching enduring understandings, overarching essential questions, and the Cornerstone Task map. The blue section includes information specific to elementary, middle, and high schools, including a Cornerstone Task map designated by marking periods and grade level or course specific instructional modules. The purple section signifies the school level implementation of learning plans based on alignment to the goals and student needs. This blueprint was shared with live links to the elementary frameworks on May 16th. Many schools have used this resource to begin collaborative planning for next school year. Links for the secondary frameworks will soon be added. All of the links will be updated throughout the summer to include a bank of assessments and resources.

WCPS Essential Curriculum Modules

Embedded in the WCPS Essential Curriculum Blueprint are grade level or course specific instructional modules. These modules provide a framework for instructional planning. Each module was developed using the Understanding by Design approach. Stage one describes the desired results, including the content standards, transfer goals, enduring understandings, essential questions, and knowledge/skills (acquisition). Stage two includes evidence of learning, such as performance tasks and other assessments aligned to the desired results. Stage three will include resources that can be used to support learning plans at the school/teacher level. Teachers will use their knowledge of students, available resources, and professional autonomy to develop the learning plan through units and/or daily lesson plans to promote student understanding and transfer of knowledge and skills. The focus is on understanding (student performance) rather than on coverage (checklist of standards taught by the teacher). Teachers will have access to a minimum of stage one for module one before summer break.

Cornerstone Tasks

Cornerstone Tasks are common performance assessments that provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate understanding of the transfer goals. They are formative assessments used to inform instruction based on what the students demonstrate they understand or don’t understand. This school year, all elementary schools used Cornerstone Tasks each marking period to collect evidence of student understanding. The elementary Phase 2 team revised some tasks and developed new tasks to better align to our prekindergarten - grade 12 transfer goals. The secondary task force developed Cornerstone Tasks and the extended task force administered these tasks to students this spring. The tasks have recently been revised based on feedback from teachers and students. The revised tasks were shared with secondary teachers this week. Teachers and students can engage in the tasks these last few weeks of school to gain experience with the expectations. Full implementation of the Cornerstone Tasks will begin next school year.

Looking Ahead to Summer...

Various teams of teachers will be working throughout the summer to align assessments (stage two) and resources (stage three) to the WCPS Essential Curriculum Modules. We appreciate the hard work and dedication of these teacher teams!