One of the strengths of Curriculum Trak is the option for any school to select any set of state or national standards in any instructional area as a framework for their instruction. The process for determining which standards best serve your school is another discussion (which we are happy to help facilitate.) But, in this post, we want to focus on how to determine if your standards are still right for you and still meeting your needs. Curriculum Trak will only make changes at your request. Therefore, we want to make sure you have all of the tools in place to know exactly what you have and identify what you need.
There are many reasons to review your standards on a regular basis. Some of those might include:
- The state or agency to which you have chosen to align may have made changes to some or all of their standards. These changes are not always widely publicized.
- Your overarching goals or defined outcomes may have changed requiring a slightly different focus in standards alignment. For example, some Language Arts standards focus more heavily on grammar while others focus more on writing.
- You may be focusing on a specific area of study in the near future that has never been intentionally aligned with standards. A school focusing on more robust art offerings may need a robust set of standards to guide instructional decisions at all levels.
- Your instructors may not have the full picture of where the standards they are working with are coming from. Without this knowledge, decisions about priority standards and unnecessary standards can be hard to make. For example, if you have opted to follow a different states Social Studies standards, how will you support state-specific history instruction?
- Standards in one area of instruction may not integrate effectively with standards from another area. Will your technology standards effectively integrate with your Math, Science, and English standards if you are increasing your STEM offerings?
You could probably add some additional reasons to review your standards to the list above, but regardless of why you want to review your standards, we wanted to highlight a simple process you can follow to complete that review effectively. We will use the following set of questions to walk through the technical steps in this process:
- What standards/benchmarks do we currently have? This has been a somewhat difficult question for curriculum directors to answer until now. We just recently released the “Current Standards Listing” report (available in the green Benchmarks icon) to make this question easier to answer. There are two parts to answer this question. Here are the specific steps to take:
- Click on your green “Benchmarks” icon (it may have been renamed to something else, but the color is still the same).
- Select the “Current Standards Listing” report to see an overview of every area in your account and what standards are currently listed. This will provide a high level overview of where your standards are coming from.
- Then, in the same “Benchmarks” area, you can click on the first option, “Standards/Benchmarks” (this too may have been changed). Drill down to a specific program/subject area to see the full set.
- In that area, you can drill down to a specific strand, grade, or course as well. This will provide a more content-specific view of the standards you are using.
- How closely are we aligning to these standards/benchmarks? Just because you have standards available, it doesn’t mean those standards are in use. In the Reports area, you have four different reports you can execute related to standards/benchmarks. Each will pull from the same information, but provide the results in different formats based on your needs. You can drill down to specific courses or look grade or program-wide to see how these standards are being used in your units. In other words, these Standards/Benchmark reports are showing you what the teachers/map editors have identified in their unit plans. By determining how much coverage you have (or do not have) in a given area, you will gain some insights about how useful the standards have been in your instruction so far. (NOTE: If you are using the Lesson Planner, this is an additional report showing the same information at the lesson level. Read about that here.)
- What other standards/benchmarks are available? The Curriculum Trak Available Standards Listing is unique to curriculum mapping tools in that it provides an apples-to-apples approach to standards/benchmarks comparison. Click on the green Benchmarks icon and choose “Available Standards Listing.” This is not so much a report as it is a catalog of standards/benchmarks in use by other Curriculum Trak schools. You can search by program to see a variety of sets, or you can narrow it by a specific state or type of standards to see if multiple versions are available. By comparing what you find here with what is listed in your “Current Standards Listing” report, you can find if there is something else out there that might better meet your needs. You may also use the keyword search to see if there is anything else out there similar to what you are looking for.
- How easily could changes be made? From a technical perspective, Curriculum Trak has been designed to support changes to standards/benchmarks rather easily. Outdated standards can be swapped out for an updated set, existing standards can be changed, and additional sets can be added to what already exists. The real consideration to make before changes are made in your account is how any changes might impact the work your instructors have already done in their maps and what that will do to overall progress. Swapping out standards basically deletes out standards/benchmark alignment in your maps and allows the instructor to realign updated benchmarks from scratch. On one hand, if the standards you are working with no longer mean anything, there is little reason to keep them. On the other hand, if the differences between sets or versions are minor or if the reasons for making the change are only mildly important, it may not be worth erasing previous efforts. In most cases, minor changes can be made throughout an existing set (we provide training and support for this) without impacting any previous work, and additional sets can be added to your account without affecting existing sets in any way. In these cases, additional coaching or communication will be required to bring the educators in any area up to speed.
- How do I make changes to our Curriculum Trak account? Regardless of what changes you have identified as needed in your account to more fully reach your instructional goals, you will probably want to contact support as a first step. At a minimum, you will want to be fully aware of the exact impact changes will have on your overall progress. Because any changes to standards can have such far-reaching impacts on your mapping editors, as a default setting, we intentionally limit options for schools to make their own changes in this area. We are more than happy to get involved, but will only make changes at your request based on your directions. Depending on the nature of the request, there is usually no charge for changes to be made and the turn around time is typically very short. If the changes are more complex or the requested standards are unique to your school, you may incur some expense or be asked to bear some of the work load. Either way, we are happy to discuss your needs and a specific path forward.
Please let us know if you need assistance reviewing your current standards and determining if changes need to be made to your account. We are here to help you reach your goals and your standards/benchmarks alignment work is often very central to those goals.