District and School Solutions

District and School Solutions

Curriculum Writing

Learn how to write unit-based, deeply aligned, and cognitively engaging curriculum that reflects best practices in teaching and student engagement.  The curriculum reflects the Curriculum Management Improvement Model Minimum Components for Quality and allows for a variety of instructional approaches and student activities within a district-held framework for student learning objectives and assessment.

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This multi-day training equips district leaders and teacher to develop a framework for written curriculum that is unit based and supportive of student-centered, cognitively challenging and engaging instruction. The foundational premise of these training modules includes the following beliefs: Quality curriculum design must support the district’s vision for effective instruction; Effective instruction requires differentiation of both curriculum and instruction; Student learning occurs at variable rates; therefore, instructional pacing must be tighter for macro units of time but looser to allow for flexible at the daily and weekly level be flexible within broader units of time, to balance staying on grade level but allowing for flexibility in the rates of individual learning;

Module One (1.5 Days): Foundation for Curriculum

This training focuses on the purposes of written curriculum; how written curriculum supports instruction and how that role influences curriculum design and components. Participants will be able to describe the two main types of differentiation:  curricular and instructional, and discuss how the need for each influences curriculum design.  Participants explore what the district’s expectations for effective instruction look like, inclusive of differentiation, and discuss the instructional model and the framework for strategies that will form the basis for curriculum design and development.  Participants then develop a list of non-negotiable curriculum components that should be in every guide in preparation for developing a unit-based written curriculum.

This training provides all participants with a common vocabulary concerning curriculum and instruction and the effective management of each.  They will discuss why written curriculum is so important and how this critical tool supports engaging and cognitively challenging instruction.

Module Two (1.5 Days): The Structure of Curriculum

This training engages participants in first creating the structure for the written curriculum, and then presents the steps involved in developing the components that make up a quality written curriculum.  Participants will learn what the most critical components of a written curriculum are and will decide on what components they deem non-negotiable and will also consider formats and organizational structure, based on the learning and goals from Module One.

Participants will see how the content in all the standards for a unit or course is made manageable by breaking it into “chunks,” or units, and will learn how to hold pacing within a course or year consistent while allowing for flexibility in daily and weekly progress through the use of the unit structure.  Participants will also brainstorm possible concepts or big ideas to form the unifying focus or theme of the units, in preparation for developing a scope and sequence, and will consider how to develop multi-disciplinary units, when and where appropriate.

After this module, participants should use time off-site to finalize the structure and formats for each content area’s guides, finalize the focus of each unit in terms of the learning students must master, and check the vertical and horizontal sequencing of that learning.   Module Three works with participants to finalize this and gives more focused attention on the learner expectations for each unit.

Module Three (1-2 Days): Finalizing Unit Development, Unit Objectives, and the Scope and Sequence

Participants will review the importance of the scope and sequence, a refined set of learner objectives that are derived from the standards that are measurable and specific in terms of what mastery looks like.  This set of objectives distills the standards into a manageable set of non-negotiable skills, concepts, and knowledge that are to be mastered by each child and places them in a PreK-12 sequence.  They will examine their units and review for each which are the most critical, mastery-level objectives, and which are the supporting, ancillary, or “en route” objectives.  The supporting objectives are those discrete pieces of knowledge or prerequisites that students gain while learning and mastering the mastery-level objectives, using classroom time more efficiently.  Participants will review the unit priority objectives for appropriate sequencing, within each grade level/course and across all grade levels of the system.

The units will also be reviewed for their respective framework of sequenced instructional modules and attention will be given to refining and finalizing this work.  If there is time, participants will be asked to think about possible larger, mastery-level performance-based assessments for each grade level or course that may transcend the units and support cognitively complex instruction. This work is intended to lead into Module Four.

Module Four (2 Days):  Formative Assessment Development and Rubrics

This training focuses on identifying deeply-aligned, performance-based assessments for every course and content area at each grade level and developing corresponding rubrics for each.  The training then gives participants guidelines in developing and/or selecting formative assessment tools for frequent student progress monitoring.

Module 5 (2 Days): Model lessons, Activities and Strategies

Develop the sequence of lessons, with models for those types of lessons that can’t be scripted or captured adequately in writing, such as a guided reading lesson.  Participants will begin to review resources to attach to specific/model lessons and student activities.  Participants will also identify non-negotiable resources that every teacher must have at each grade level to effectively deliver the curriculum as written, and will review those resources for proper alignment across the dimensions of content, context, and cognitive type.  (3Cs)

The suggested sequence of activities or model lessons for each unit will incorporate suggestions for differentiating instruction for special populations, such as ELL students, Special Education students, or gifted students.  The facilitator will also present and integrate the principles of culturally-responsive instruction, to assure that students’ backgrounds and learning styles are taken into account when teachers plan instruction. Other initiatives that the district has currently underway can be integrated into the units, as well, such as socio-emotional learning or multiple intelligences.

*Resource Alignment (1 Day) (training is available in conjunction with this training; an additional day)

Companion Trainings for Instructional Delivery

Curriculum Management Planning:  Planning the design, development, delivery of curriculum to maximize student learning

Differentiation Training: Planning for student-centered instruction using flexible learning arrangements

Cognitively Challenging Instruction:  Engaging and challenging students in the classroom with high levels of cognition (can also be done in conjunction with Culturally Responsive Instruction)

Effective strategies in the classroom:  implementing cognitively challenging instruction with high-yield strategies.

Resource Alignment and Examining Student Work:  Protocols for assuring deep alignment of resources and student work with the standards and objectives of the curriculum and with related assessments.

CMSi also offers formative review of curriculum, assessments, and related plans to provide ongoing feedback

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Curriculum Management Planning

This 2-day workshop focuses individuals on the key components of a quality written plan that outlines the priorities and procedures involved with managing written curriculum in the district to assure alignment and to support the most effective instruction in every classroom.  Built off the concepts and standards of the Curriculum Management Audit, the workshop reviews the fifteen characteristics of a quality plan, and engages participants in reflection on the research concerning best practices, curriculum design, and effective instruction, particularly with under-achieving or disadvantaged students.

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Participants will  work in teams to develop their definition of critical components of the plan, such as the district’s philosophy concerning teaching and learning, a definition of effective instruction, expectations for using data to plan instruction, a vision for what student-centered instruction really looks like, and an outline for the key steps in creating, delivering, and monitoring a quality written curriculum that supports these district values. This workshop asks participants to complete selected readings prior to coming; these readings are made available electronically.  Additional materials are provided at the training, as well as sample plans and a template for drafting a curriculum management plan. Participants are expected to leave the training with a framework for a plan in place and at least 5-6 characteristics or components defined in draft form.  This workshop is most appropriate for those personnel involved in leading curriculum development and at least one representative of those monitoring its delivery. Contact Us


What is actually happening in district classrooms? How can we be sure our programs are working?  SchoolView provides a diagnostic, data-gathering tool for principals and other school leaders to collect trend data regarding the curricular and instructional practices in the classroom.

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Principals, assistant principals and district-level administrators will find multiple uses for SchoolView, which can be tailored according to your school’s specific needs.  Data from SchoolView are recorded and analyzed for specific feedback purposes, including:

  • How well is the content of classroom instruction aligned to Common Core, TEKS, or State Standards?
  • How cognitively rigorous is the work in classrooms?
  • How well are contexts – the how of mastery -- aligned to the contexts on PARCC, Smarter Balanced, STARR or state tests in use?
  • Are students engaged?
  • Is staff development producing the desired changes in teaching practice?

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Deep Curriculum Alignment

Ensuring that the curriculum your teachers teach is deeply aligned to the high stakes tests in use in your state is the key to improving student performance on those tests.  This three-day, hands-on CMSi training offers the methods ad means needed to deeply align your district’s curriculum to the high stakes tests your students will be expected to take.

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A few of the things participants will learn include:

  • Principles of alignment between the written, taught, and tested curriculum
  • Rationale for curriculum alignment
  • How cultural capital relates to students and tests
  • Deconstructing test items
  • Backloading publicly released test items into the curriculum
  • Determining content, context and cognitive type of test items for alignment
  • Critical components of a curriculum guide
  • Designing curriculum guides from state standards
  • Conducting a Q sort
  • Creating a curriculum plan and writing a curriculum policy

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Fifty Ways to Close the Achievement Gap

This two-day cutting edge seminar presents the 50 strategies found to have the greatest impact on student achievement. This seminar is suitable for any district leaders desirous of diagnosing system needs and of meeting NCLB requirements. The 50 strategies will energize participants and provide focus on the steps that need to be part of any district or school improvement plan.

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Participants will receive a copy of the bestselling book, 50 Ways to Close the Achievement Gap, by Downey, English, Frase, Poston, Steffy, and Melton, and the companion handbook participants receive will serve as a guide to creating the educational tools and strategies most likely to result in higher student achievement. In this site-based training program, participants will acquire the tools needed to make substantive improvements in student learning. Participants will learn how to:

  • Establish a well-crafted, focused, valid, and clear curriculum to direct teaching.
  • Provide assessments that are aligned to the curriculum.
  • Align program and instructional resources to the curriculum and provide student equality and equity.
  • Use a mastery learning approach as well as effective teaching strategies.
  • Establish curriculum expectations, monitoring, and accountability.
  • Institute effective district and school planning, staff development, and resource allocation; and provide for a quality learning environment.

This seminar is two dimensional, utilizing mini-lectures and diagnostic activities. Participants are encouraged to personalize their learning, applying the strategies learned to the context within their own district. Contact Us

Performance-Based Budgeting

How can a district cope with a limited budget without damaging the quality of the education it provides? This training teaches districts how to design budgets that are focused on performance and targeted results, and driven by the educational needs of the system, with special strategies for dealing with budget cutbacks and their consequences — all while keeping the educational mission intact.

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The focus is on keeping budgets lean while maintaining the quality of the educational system, and on involving more stakeholders and decreasing conflict during the decision-making process. Participants will learn the following:

  • Containing the budget without damaging the educational mission
  • Performance-based budgeting techniques that improve quality
  • Procedures to ensure the budget is driven by educational needs and strategic planning
  • Anticipating the unforeseen consequences of budget reductions
  • Maximizing productivity in lean times
  • Strategies to deal with repercussions of central office reduction and program cutbacks
  • New strategies for communicating with employees, parents, and the community
  • Strategies to foster collaboration

This is a one- or two-day seminar. Contact Us

Basic Walk-Through Training

The Downey Walk-Through was the first approach of its kind to couple brief, snapshot observations with reflective conversations between principals and teachers.  The result?  Improved student achievement, teachers with greater pedagogical capacity, and better relationships between staff and administrators.

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The two-day training combines interactive approaches and practicum-style activities, during which time participants interact extensively with the instructor and each other as they visit real classrooms.  Trainings are conducted on your site and include the following skills and concepts:

  • Implementing the 5-step Downey Walk-Through
  • Meshing the Walk-Through and accompanying reflective conversations with appraisal systems
  • Conducting informal, non-judgmental, reflective conversation dialogues
  • Focusing the development of staff through reflective choice
  • Phrasing reflective questions
  • The research behind the Walk-through premises

Advanced Walk-Through training is also available. Contact Us