Curriculum & Programs
- 1 Overview
- 2 State Curriculum and Content Standards
- 3 District Curriculum Review and Adoption Process
- 4 Formal Curriculum Review Process and Timeline
- 5 Venues for Public Participation in Curriculum Review and Development
- 6 Individual Concerns
The Piedmont curriculum is intended to cultivate intellectually curious and independent learners. The District provides a strong teaching and professional staff, who work hard to provide Piedmont students with a comprehensive, rigorous and relevant K-12 curriculum. As students progress through this curriculum, the District strives to provide them with appropriate support to help them achieve to their fullest potential. The District believes this is particularly important during students’ elementary years, when foundations for learning are being established in preparation for the rigors and challenges offered at the secondary level. Accordingly, two major hallmarks of Piedmont’s educational program, beginning in the elementary years, are smaller class sizes and strong support services and enrichment programs. Later years’ efforts build on this base.
Central to curriculum development in Piedmont is the belief that children learn at different rates, and that individual mastery can occur at different points in a continuum of skill development. In this continuum, understanding and mastery are preceded by introduction, guided practice, and reinforcement – and followed by review, further reinforcement, and opportunities for independent, consistent application. This model of learning ensures that every student has many opportunities to learn and to develop each skill.
Another important component of Piedmont’s curriculum is the emphasis on critical thinking – learning when and how to apply the skills learned. Piedmont teachers and professional staff help students to develop a solid foundation of skills by exposing them to a variety of information, material, and concepts, and then introducing them to a variety of strategies to apply and synthesize what they learn in school to the world around them.
Use the links below for more information:
- State Curriculum and Content Standards
- District Curriculum Review and Adoption Process
- Formal Curriculum Review Process and Timeline
- Venues for Public Participation in Curriculum Review and Development
- Individual Concerns
The California Department of Education (CDE; which is governed by the State Board of Education) defines subject-matter content areas and sets content standards for each area. These content standards provide the blueprints for content frameworks, which also reviews and recommends textbooks and other instructional materials for adoption by local school districts. CDE divides curricula into content areas, which it reviews and revises on an 8 year cycle. The current CDE provides information on its adoption cycle on its Internet site.
The District bases its core instruction on “Standards and Benchmarks” set by the State for each academic curriculum. The District follows the California State Standards in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, History-Social Science and Science. We continue to refine and develop standards in other subject areas, including Physical Education, Fine Arts, World Languages, Computer Technology, and Library Information. These standards provide clear expectations for what students need to know and be able to do in all subject areas and at each grade level.
Districts adopt curricula designed to meet state standards, and generally must select textbooks and other teaching materials from among those approved by the State. PUSD’s process for doing so is described next.
The District reviews it curriculum and associated textbooks on an ongoing basis, following state standards and adoption cycles. District staff and administrative personnel review curriculum materials and textbooks, in a multi-pronged effort that includes extensive opportunities for public participation and input. At the end of this process, the staffs present recommendations to the Board of Education, which hears public comment and then makes a final decision on each adoption. More information follows below, discussing the aspects of the District’s process.
The District curriculum review process is coordinated to follow the state adoptions of curriculum and textbooks described above. When new standards are adopted by the State they are reviewed by PUSD teachers and administrators, and discussed with the public. Teachers and administrators review the standards during collaboration times at individual schools and at curriculum meetings where discussions may include multiple curriculum topics involving two or more schools. Public discussions related to curriculum are primarily held during meetings of the Curriculum Forum, individual school Site councils and Parents Clubs.
The District encourages public engagement during curriculum articulation. Several ongoing venues are provided (in addition to one-time workshops or meetings at individual schools). The District also provides extensive passive communication through site newsletters and websites, which are continually updated and distributed to families.
Each school has a Site Council whose members are determined annually. The Councils consist of teachers, other staff, parents, and administrators. Students also participate at the secondary level. Each Site Council is responsible for a variety of specific tasks, and also provides a forum for discussions of issues specific to the school it serves. These include discussion of curriculum issues specific to that school, and efforts to enhance participation by members of that school’s community in District-wide initiatives.
At the beginning of each school year, the first important task for each Site Council is preparation of that school’s Single Plan for Student Achievement. The State requires the Site Council at each public school to prepare a Single Plan annually, to be reviewed and approved by the local board of education. Additional information is available at the State’s Single Plan webpage. This plan describes programs at each site and identifies measurable goal(s) to improve student achievement – beginning in 2008-2009, PUSD ensures that each plan within the District includes goals related to curriculum development and learning. Please click on the following links in order to view the Single Plan for Student Achievement at each site:
Site Councils also provide venues for discussion of curriculum-related issues throughout each school year. Although each Site Council develops its own schedules, procedures and formats for these discussions, topics typically include the following:
- Discussions related to that year’s curriculum adoption. These address curriculum review and textbook evaluation involving teachers and students at that school, including collaboration at that school site and articulation with peers at other PUSD schools and District wide, and activities within the Curriculum Forum (see below) applicable to that school.
- Activities related to implementation of recent adoptions. These address teachers’, students’ and families’ experiences as curriculum adoptions from the preceding years are actually implemented at the school. These discussions identify which aspects are going well, which are proving problematic, and what is being done to ensure that curricula, textbooks and other efforts are achieving educational goals.
- Standardized test results are presented, including attempts to interpret their implications for students’ achievement and wellbeing.
- Other issues related to curriculum, programs, and services. These may include discussions of homework levels, counseling and support efforts, and enrichment activities (including application of differentiated instruction and the school’s participation in the District’s Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program).
- Professional development activities and equipment acquisitions.
If you are interested in attending Site Council meetings, each school provides the dates and times of meetings on its individual website.
The Piedmont Unified School District has established a Curriculum Forum Committee comprised of teachers, administrators, students, parents, and board members. Each school site council identifies two parents to serve as representatives on the committee. All interested community members are encouraged to attend committee meetings and will have opportunity to provide input, to the committee, at each meeting. Meeting dates, agendas, and meeting recaps are posted on the District website. Agendas and meeting notices are provided in school site newsletters one week in advance of each meeting.
Each school has a Parents’ Club. All parents are invited to join their Parents’ Club(s). Parents’ Clubs provide support to each school site and the District, in order to support the drives for excellence in students’ learning experience and the partnership between the parent community and the District. Contributions of time, expertise and money enable PUSD to continue to provide programs long ago cut by less fortunate districts. Parents’ Club members are involved in conversations that keep them informed and allow them to weigh in on topics. Parents raise money throughout the year and allocate the money for programs. Particular areas of interest are developed from collaborative efforts among parents, the school staff and principal, and the District. Many interests are discussed at the meetings, including those related to curriculum.
Parent involvement in curriculum concerns is not limited to these established venues. Individual questions can be raised and addressed at Back to School nights, other appropriate school-sponsored meetings, or parent-teacher conferences. If a parent has a specific concern about how the curriculum affects his or her child, the parent can also make an appointment with the teacher. If the concern has a broader brush or cannot be resolved at that level, then the principal will be invited in the conversation. The principal will inform the Director of Curriculum when the issue becomes a District concern so that appropriate action can be taken.