What it means: Pre-plan high standards for each grade/course—with schoolwide curriculum, lessons, and useful assessments up to and beyond standards—to support achievement and growth.
Raising sights, quality, and consistency by planning ahead includes the following:
- Articulate the vision for teachers, students, and families
- Choose high annual standards and growth goals
- Choose and/or develop high-standards curricula aligned with goals, across grades and subjects
- Develop engaging lesson plans that align with curriculum and include frequent checks for understanding, personalization/differentiation, re-teaching, and acceleration
- Systematize schoolwide procedures and routines
- Select or develop interim assessments aligned to high standards and growth goals
- Establish an assessment calendar
- Determine data systems to share progress with teachers, students, and families
- Schedule time to analyze data and adjust teaching
- Plan for students to set and track goals
See a one-page Instructional Excellence Summary covering all the key elements.
Use these tools to help you choose and/or develop high-standards curricula:
- Recommended High-Quality Curricula: Detailed Summary for Curriculum & Instruction Professionals (PDF)
- Recommended High-Quality Curricula: Leadership Summary (PDF)
Videos—For Teachers & Multi-Classroom Leaders
Use Summer Planning to Set Goals That Close Gaps
MCL Kristin Cubbage explains how she sets high goals during summer planning and professional development for her teaching team to achieve success with students.
Set Pacing Calendar Before School Begins
Summer instructional and assessment planning is crucial to ensure student growth, MCL Sean Carberry says.
Summer Planning Enables Quick Start
Use summer planning time for vision-setting and reflecting on instruction to give students a quick start each year, MCL Ellen Rayburn says.
Summer Planning Means More Time to Help Students Individually
Do most lesson planning over the summer, Blended-Learning Teacher Lori Treiber says, to free schoolyear time to focus on each student’s needs.
Choose high annual standards, growth goals, and matching curriculum
Lead Team to Set Ambitious Goals
MCL Erin Williams describes how to lead a teaching team to set high goals and see what students are truly capable of, leading to empowered students.
Use Available Data to Plan Ahead and Set and Impart High Goals
Master Reach Teacher Jimmel Williams explains his process for thoroughly reviewing all available data ahead of the school year to set goals for each student.
Set High but Attainable Individualized Goals
MCL Erin Burns explains her process of reviewing students’ data to set very high goals that students can reach without burning out.
Develop engaging lesson plans
Engage Students in Learning and High Goals
MCL Tonya Reaves explains how she works to engage students in lessons that help them track and reach their high goals.
Plan Engaging Lessons Focused on Critical Standards
Focus on critical standards and rigorous, engaging texts to challenge all students, MCL Hadley Moore says.
Videos—For Principals & Multi-School Leaders
Use Summer Planning to Prepare Instructional Leadership Team
Set a vision and prepare for challenges that will arise before school begins, Principal Christian Sawyer says.
Choose high annual standards, growth goals, and matching curriculum
MCLs Must Plan Curriculum in Summer
Paid summer planning time is vital for the success of multi-classroom leaders, says Principal Janet Moss.
- Which actions in this element of instructional excellence are strengths for you or your team?
- Which actions in this element of instructional excellence are weaknesses for you or your team? Think about actions you never take, fail to take as often as needed, or do not take as well as needed to achieve strong learning growth consistently.
- What one to three specific changes will you or your team make to use your strengths more often or more consistently and improve weaknesses in the coming months?
- Make a brief action plan with specific goals, roles, and time by which you will make specific changes!
- Did your changes produce better learning results? If so, keep them. If not, think again about what other changes to make!
See this printable study guide with discussion questions and real examples from educators:
- For Multi-Classroom Leaders—Key Element of Instructional Excellence: Plan Ahead and Raise Sights (PDF)
See training resources provided by other organizations in the Other Developmental Resources section.
Other Developmental Resources
Student Achievement Partners: Achieve The Core, Coherence Map for math (tools)
Student Achievement Partners: Achieve The Core, Lesson Planning Tool (tools)
Student Achievement Partners: Achieve The Core, Core Literacy Lessons from the Text Set Project (tools)
Student Achievement Partners: Achieve The Core, Read Aloud Project (tools)
Student Achievement Partners: Achieve The Core, Instructional Practice Guides Coaching Tools (tools)
LearnZillion and Louisiana Department of Education, English/Language Arts Guidebook Units (tools)
Unbound Ed: Explore Curriculum (searchable resources)
Unbound Ed: Enhance Instruction (searchable resources)
What does it take to implement a strong curriculum effectively? by Instructional Partners (white paper)
Success Academies Education Institute: Literacy Curriculum for K-8 (tools, e-courses)
Papers and Books:
Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction by Bambrick-Santoyo (book with tools)
Articulate the vision for teachers, students, and families
SEDL: Vision Leadership and Change (short article)
ITSE: 8 Ways to Establish a Shared Vision (short article)
Match Mini: How Classroom Learning Happens (quick tutorial)
Choose high annual standards and growth goals
Choose and/or develop high-standards curricula aligned with goals, across grades and subjects
ASCD: Understanding by Design® Framework (white paper)
Edreports.org: Independent reviews of instructional materials by educators, and rates curricula on their alignment with the Common Core
Match Fishtank: ELA 3-9, Match 7,8,10 curriculum (tools)
EdSurge: Product Index, Curriculum Platforms, includes teacher reviews and case studies (tools)
Develop engaging lesson plans that align with curriculum and include frequent checks for understanding, personalization/differentiation, re-teaching, and acceleration
Learner Positioning Systems, Digital Promise (tools)
EdSurge: Product Index, Lesson Planning, includes teacher reviews and case studies (tools)
Systematize schoolwide procedures and routines
Responsive Classroom: Routines (chapter)
Select or develop interim assessments aligned to high standards and growth goals
EdSurge: Product Index, Assessment, includes teacher reviews and case studies (tools)
Establish an assessment calendar
engageNY: Data Drive Instruction: Sample Assessments and Resources (includes assessment calendars)
Determine data systems to share progress with teachers, students, and families
SchoolZilla: Store and view interactive data dashboards to make actionable decisions about data (tool)
Mastery Connect: Mastery Tracker (tools)
EdSurge: Product Index Data Systems, includes teacher reviews and case studies (tools)
Schedule time to analyze data and adjust teaching
engageNY: Data Driven Instruction, includes videos of a results meeting, templates, and more
Plan for students to set and track goals
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