The Urbana School District #116 curriculum is based on the Illinois Learning Standards, and is aligned with the Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics, which were adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education in June of 2010. The standards emphasize the development of strong basic skills in:
- Language Arts (reading, writing, speaking and listening)
- Social Studies
- Physical Development and Health
- Fine Arts
- Social/Emotional Learning
Additionally, study in Foreign Languages and Careers and Technical Education is made available at the middle and high school levels.
The use of technology and 21st Century Literacies are incorporated into the curriculum as part of everyday learning activities
Everyone knows the curriculum (what is taught) and what students should know and be able to do by the end of a specific grade. The term “everyone” includes not only teachers and staff, but also parents and students. Our Priority Standards and Safety Net Skills help everyone understand what is expected of students academically and behaviorally.
Everyone takes responsibility for student learning. This includes all staff, parents, and especially students. Our primary focus is to help students become responsible for their own learning. Students are expected to set personal goals and to track their progress towards the achievement of those goals.
Everyone uses data to make instructional decisions. Access to current student data is necessary for making critical decisions about teaching and learning. Data (information) about student achievement and progress is collected and reported through daily work, benchmark assessments, common course exams, anecdotal records and student portfolios.
Addressing Student Differences
Children enter school with different abilities and learning needs. The Safety Net Skills describe the essential content that a typical learner is likely to accomplish by the end of a specific grade level. Not all students progress at the pace of a typical learner. Teachers recognize the need to modify, adapt or enrich the learning experiences of those students who are developing knowledge and skills at different rates. The district also provides support programs to address the diverse needs of students beyond the general classroom program of instruction. These programs include Literacy Support, Title One, English as a Second Language, and Special Education.
Standards are the desired results of student learning – what we want students to know, understand, and be able to do – at the end of their formal K-12 school experience.
The Illinois Learning Standards and Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics establish overall targets for student performance. Our district’s performance descriptors set the standard for Urbana School District #116 students. They provide us with detailed information about continuous improvement. That is, every day each student takes small steps toward achieving the performance descriptors that will enable them to meet the state standards.
Urbana School District 116 has identified a subset of standards that are determined to be of the utmost importance to teach for depth of understanding and mastery. The Priority Standards come from a systematic and balanced approach to distinguishing which standards are absolutely critical for student success in subsequent schooling and throughout life, and were developed with input provided by parent/community and student surveys and feedback from staff in all buildings.
The Priority Standards, while certainly not ALL that we teach, are used to design rich, standards-focused, project-based learning experiences for students. They represent the core content that is expected to be mastered by the end of high school, and are carefully linked to formative classroom assessment, along with feedback and coaching that provide evidence of student achievement related to the standards. Students are given multiple opportunities to demonstrate proficiency in a variety of ways. The information gathered from formative assessment is used to inform to make important decisions about teaching and learning.
Priority Standard One — Content Literacy: Students will achieve proficiency in each of the content areas outlined in the Illinois Learning Standards. They will be able to conduct an inquiry and engage in a focused examination of information. Authentic literacy skills are emphasized district-wide in all content areas and across grade levels.
Priority Standard Two — Writing Proficiency: Writing proficiency is expected in all classes and is determined by scoring at least a “3” on the specific Traits rubrics. Teachers emphasize written communication in all courses and in cross-curricular projects.
Priority Standard Three — Oral Proficiency: Students are expected to speak and listen effectively for a variety of purposes. This is largely assessed through rubrics used with presentations.
Priority Standard Four — Critical Thinking: Students will apply content knowledge to learning in complex, real world situations: identify problems, think through solutions and alternatives, and explore new options as needed. They will be able to assess the credibility, accuracy and value of information, analyze and evaluate information, make reasoned decisions and take purposeful action.
Priority Standard Five — Collaboration: Students will be self-directed and able to listen and learn from others in order to reach common goals while respecting differences. They will understand how to reach consensus and work productively in teams.
Priority Standard Six — Technology: Students are expected to have sufficient information and communication technology skills to assess, create, and manage information and communicate effectively in real world situations.
Priority Standard Seven — Civic responsibilities: Students will have sufficient skills to make informed decisions related to civic duty, financial responsibility, and maintaining healthy lifestyles.
Safety Net Skills
The Safety Net Skills are the performance indicators we are committing to teach for MASTERY at each level that support the identified Priority Standards. They are a “snapshot” of the instructional focus at a particular grade level and do not describe everything that is taught in a grade or course. The Safety Net Skills build on those previously mastered and lay the foundation for learning in later schooling and throughout life. We expect that every student will demonstrate mastery of these skills, and acknowledge that each student will progress through the Safety Net Skills at a pace that is unique to each individual. Daily lessons, instructional strategies, and assessment of student work are designed to help students make progress and meet or exceed the learning standards. We will gather sufficient evidence to provide proof of student learning, and communicate progress towards mastery with students and families.