Curriculum & Instruction
The Office of Curriculum and Instruction supports student and adult learners’ acquisition of the knowledge and skills to empower every learner to achieve personal excellence. This work creates and sustains the systems that foster continuous learning which support teaching for deeper learning. These systems are:
- Curriculum Development which provides a guaranteed and viable curriculum.
- Professional learning that focuses on content and impactful practices in instruction and assessment.
- Intensive instruction to support diverse learners through the following programs: English Learners, Bilingual Instruction, Reading Intervention Support, 3-8 Gifted, Title I Tutoring After School and Summer School.
- Curriculum embedded instructional technology and mobile learning to support learners as they acquire the important skills of communicating clearly to a variety of audiences, collaborating with others, and persevering with challenging work.
- Library media centers that develop research skills, teach instructional technology use, promote literacy and provide print and digital resources for students.
- Balanced assessment system that collects a variety of information providing a holistic picture of student achievement that is multifaceted and focused on student growth
- District and school improvement processes to support continuous improvement.
As a result, Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 has an infrastructure to ensure the success of educators and their students.
- District 95 Instructional Model
- Program Services
- Curriculum Development
- Professional Development
- School Improvement Plans
- Curriculum Resources 2023-24
The District 95 Office of Curriculum and Instruction coordinates resources, programs, and support services to meet the diverse educational needs of our students. These services includes programs for accelerated learners, English Learners, and intervention services for reading support. In addition, the curriculum office coordinates instructional print and digital resources available for teachers and students through classrooms and our Library Media Centers. Extended learning opportunities are available through summer school offerings and Title I after-school programs*.
*Title I programs are available only in Title I schools for identified students.
- English Learner/Bilingual
- Accelerated Placement Programs
- Literacy & Innovation
- Reading Services
- Title 1
Transitional Program of Instruction (TPI) Programs
Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) Full-Time Program
Transitional Bilingual Program (Self-contained) TBE Program Components
- Instruction in English and the home language of the student for all core subjects
- Language Arts in the student's home language (teaching the student how to read and write in his/her home language)
- Instruction in English as a second language (ESL), which must be aligned to the Illinois English Language Development Standards
- Instruction in the history and culture of the native land of the student or their parents and of the United States
Program Integration - In courses of subjects in which languages is not essential to an understanding of the subject matter, including, but not necessarily limited to, art, music, physical education, students of limited English proficiency shall participate fully with their English-speaking classmates.
Biliteracy is the goal of the District 95 TBE program.
District 95 offers honors level and Advanced Placement classes at the high school, accelerated classes in math, social studies, literature, language arts, and science at the middle school, and accelerated math replacement classes in grades three through five at the elementary level.
The current program design includes one specialist at each elementary building who is responsible for providing replacement math services in third through fifth grades. The math class is an accelerated course.
At the middle school level, the accelerated program consists of core content area classes. Students who are identified for the program in grades six through eight may qualify for math only, or a combination of math and a block of literacy, science, and social studies.
At the high school level, students who were previously identified as accelerated may be recommended for Honors, AP, or Dual Credit classes, as available.
Early Admission to Kindergarten
Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 (CUSD 95) has established procedures to allow for requests from parents for early admission into kindergarten for children whose fifth birthday falls between the State of Illinois requirement of September 1 and District 95’s deadline of October 31. It is recognized that social, emotional, physical and intellectual readiness for kindergarten varies from child to child at a given chronological age and that some children are ready for kindergarten earlier than others.
Preliminary Criteria for Early Admission into Kindergarten
1. The child must live within the Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 (CUSD 95) boundaries and turn five years old after September 1st and before November 1st of the ensuing school year.
2. Parents must submit the following completed paperwork by April 1st prior to the school year to initiate the process. (Documents are below)
- Early Admission into Kindergarten Parent Request Form
- Teacher Interview Questionnaire for Kindergarten
- Parent Interview Questionnaire for Kindergarten
- The child’s birth certificate
- If available, previous testing data or additional information to support the request
3. Residents new to CUSD 95 after April 1st should contact the building office of elementary school that the child will attend as soon as possible to make arrangements for testing.
4. Paperwork should be submitted to the building office of elementary school the child will attend. If you are unsure as to which school your child will attend, contact the CUSD 95 Transportation Department at 847-438-2834.
5. The child will need to attend the district Kindergarten screening as well as complete additional assessments administered by the school psychologist. Should the child demonstrate advanced academic achievement he/she will become eligible for further testing. The parent will be then be contacted by the District 95 Psychologist to schedule additional testing. The cost for additional testing is $150 for the initial session, and if the child qualifies, an additional $200 for a second and final session.
6. After testing has been completed, the CUSD 95 Psychologist will contact the parent with a decision on the child’s eligibility for early entrance into Kindergarten.
Early Admission to First Grade
Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 (CUSD 95) has established procedures to allow for requests from parents for early admission into first grade for children whose sixth birthday falls between the State of Illinois requirement of September 1 and District 95’s deadline of December 31st. It is recognized that social, emotional, physical and intellectual readiness for first grade varies from child to child at a given chronological age and that some children are ready for first grade earlier than others.
Preliminary criteria for Early Admission into First Grade
1. The child must live within the Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 (CUSD 95) boundaries and turn six years old after September 1st and before January 1st of the ensuing school year.
2. The child must have attended a non-public pre-school and kindergarten, and been taught by an appropriately certified teacher.
3. Parents must submit the following completed paperwork by May 1st prior to the school year to initiate the process. (Documents are below)
- Early Admission into First Grade Parent Request form
- Teacher Interview Questionnaire for First Grade form
- Parent Interview Questionnaire for First Grade form
- The child’s birth certificate
- If available, previous testing data or additional information to support the request
4. Residents new to CUSD 95 after May 1st should contact their local elementary school office as soon as possible to make arrangements for testing.
5. Paperwork should be submitted to your local elementary school office. If you are unsure as to which school your child will attend, contact the CUSD 95 Transportation Department at 847-438-2834.
6. The child will be scheduled for preliminary testing at the elementary school during the month of May. Should the child pass this testing phase the parent(s) will be contacted regarding further testing. The cost for additional testing is $150 for the initial session, and if the child qualifies, an additional $200 for a second and final session.
7. Upon completion of testing, the parent will be contacted with a decision on the child’s eligibility for early entrance into First Grade.
Library and Media Services
The District 95 Literacy/Learning and Innovation Hubs prepare students for future experiences by empowering every learner to achieve personal excellence through inquiry, creativity, innovation, and global collaboration while providing flexible learning spaces that inspire student self-direction and enrich the reading lives of the school community.
Each school in District 95 is equipped with a newly upgraded Literacy/Learning and Innovation Hub. Each Hub is managed by a Library Media Specialist, with the support of a library assistant.
At the elementary school level, the Library Media Specialist delivers weekly classes aimed at cultivating library and research abilities, as well as skills in computer science and digital literacy. In addition, they deliver our elementary entrepreneurship program, FreshINCedu™, to all of our 5th graders.
For middle and high school students, the Hub is an essential resource that supports both teachers and students with their curriculum. The Lake Zurich High School, in particular, boasts a newly refurbished two-story Learning and Innovation Hub. Here, a Learning and Innovation Specialist aids teachers and students in enhancing literacy, conducting research, and fostering innovation.
Across all education levels, we carefully select and verify materials to ensure they foster literacy and offer sufficient research resources for students.
Every student in grades K-5 engages in computer science instruction through the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) curriculum. PLTW ensures students learn in creative and meaningful ways while also meeting Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and technology standards. The computer science-focused modules and emphasis on computational thinking develop students' problem-solving skills, logical-reasoning skills, and perseverance. Lessons as they use devices to test their ideas.
Kindergarten: Animals and Algorithyms
Students explore the nature of computers and the ways humans control and use technology. Starting with an unplugged activity, students learn about the sequential nature of computer programs. Students are inspired by a story in which Angelina, Mylo, and Suzi make videos to teach preschoolers about animals in their habitats. Then, students work in small groups to design and program a simple digital animation about an animal in its habitat.
First Grade: Animated Storytelling
Students explore the sequential nature of computer programs through hands-on activities, both with and without a digital device. They explore the basic fundamentals of programming using ScratchJr, a block-based programming language to create their own projects. The “Use-Modify-Create” framework strengthens programming skills as students use a practice program, modify the program, and then create their own program according to the constraints provided.
Applying skills and knowledge learned from the activities and project in this module, students work together to design and program a digital animated story to share with members of their community.
Second Grade: Grids and Games
In this module, students explore the sequential nature of computer programs through hands-on activities, both with and without a digital device. In a life-size board game, students write a program using directional cards and repeat loops to program Rosie the Robotic Dog to move through a maze. Then, students develop an understanding of computer science, computer scientists, and the impacts of computing.
After building an understanding of computer science, students create programs using a block-based programming language. Students follow the Use-Modify-Create Framework to write programs with sequences, loops, and triggers. Applying skills and knowledge learned from the activities and project, students work together to design and program a game that can be played on a digital device.
Third Grade: Programming Patterns
Students explore control structures such as events, loops, and conditionals. These structures specify the sequence in which instructions are executed within a program. Starting with computer-free activities and progressing to programming in a block-based language on a device, students learn how to think computationally about a program. In the design problem, Angelina, Mylo, and Suzi are challenged to use computer programming to write a story with different endings. Combining their writing and programming skills, students develop interactive stories on a device with multiple plots.
Fourth and Fifth Grade: Input/Output Computer Systems
In this exploration of how computers work, students are encouraged to make analogies between the parts of the human body and the parts that make up a computer. Students investigate reaction time as a measure of nervous system function. After Mylo suffers a concussion, his friends become interested in how to diagnose concussions and create a reaction-time computer program to assess a baseline before a concussion occurs. Students apply what they have learned to build their own reaction-time measurement devices on tablets.
Library Media Specialists introduce our 5th-grade students to entrepreneurship through the FreshINCedu™ curriculum.
In teams, students progress through the milestones of starting up a new business: they identify a problem to solve, create a product concept using recycled materials, pitch their idea, sell their product in an e-commerce marketplace, and evaluate the performance of their business idea. With the involvement of mentors and volunteers from the local community, students experience authentic learning, providing them an opportunity to feel empowered as entrepreneurs.
FreshINC™ aligns with standards for ELA, Math, and Social Studies frameworks.
Literacy and Innovation Hub procedures vary by grade level. Please visit your child’s school webpage to find more information about specific procedures and related resources.
Lake Zurich CUSD 95 offers a range of reading supports and interventions for students identified as striving readers. Students in grades K-11 are monitored for reading progress using district identified benchmarks and local assessments. Interventions are implemented to address the needs of those who are not making adequate reading progress.
The first step to providing support for a striving reader is through classroom support. These interventions occur in the child’s classroom as teachers identify that a child is struggling and support the child’s learning through increased re-teaching of reading skills and strategies through small group and individual instruction during class time.
For students who need more support, interventions for grades K-5 include additional instructional time with a certified reading specialist provided in a small group using the evidence-based Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention program.
For students who need intensive instructional support, interventions for K-8 include additional instructional time with a certified reading specialist in small groups with a 1:6 teacher to student ratio for Tier II, and a 1:3, or less, ratio for Tier III. Teacher to student ratios are higher at the high school level as students receive additional instruction through a Reading Strategies course.
Students receiving interventions are progress monitored on a biweekly basis using a combination of running records, comprehension interviews, and literacy behavior checklists.
Students are considered for release of services if after receiving reading interventions, they score at or above the 30th percentile as measured by NWEA MAP reading assessments or are reading at benchmark level as measured by Fountas and Pinnell BAS.
Title I Information
What is Title I?
Title I is a federally funded education program which provides supplemental funds to assist eligible schools to meet educational school goals. Through a provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Federal government allocates funds to school districts around the country based on the number of low-income families in each district. Schools use their Title I funds to improve the achievement of children in their school, focusing on closing the achievement gap between high and low performing students.
An educationally disadvantaged student is one whose educational readiness or educational achievement is below average for his or her age or grade level in terms of specified expected outcomes in literacy: reading, writing, speaking, listening, or mathematics and/ or who is eligible to participate in the national free or reduced–price lunch program.
How are the funds used?
The Lake Zurich Schools that qualify for Title I funds, use the funds for Targeted Support for the benefit of identified students in the school. Title I is not a standalone program, but it is coordinated with other district, state and federal funds to drive improved achievement in the schools. Some examples of what the supplemental Title I funding provides are: instructional support, additional student, parent and teacher materials; parent education and family programs; extended day learning opportunities for students; and professional development for teachers. Each year, the grant is written to reflect and support school improvement goals.
What do I know about my child's teacher?
The federal education law called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires that all parents in a Title I school be notified and given the opportunity to request information about the professional qualifications of classroom teachers instructing their child. If you are interested in this information, you may send your request to the building principal who will provide a response.
A challenging, rigorous curriculum is created when it is …
- developed by a diverse team of teachers and administrators representing all grade levels and buildings.
- aligned to the district mission, state and national standards.
- articulated preK-12.
- designed for effective implementation in the time available.
Although flexible to meet the needs of each discipline, the curriculum development process has four major phases: Research and Focus; Curriculum Design; Professional Development and Refinement of the Curriculum; and Implementation.
I. Research & Focus
During this phase of the process, the committee studies national and state standards, as well as best practices in the discipline in order to gain clarity about what each grade level should know and understand. Gaps are identified between current practice and what has been gleaned from research. Timelines are created to focus and drive the committee’s work.
II. Curriculum Design
Committee members become familiar with a curricular framework based on inquiry. In order to achieve the District’s mission, the curriculum design must compel students to explore pertinent questions and develop informed answers to those questions using the content of the discipline. Grade level teams of teachers create units that develop a logical progression of skills and knowledge from one grade level /course to the next. In addition, assessments are created or identified to clarify expectations for student performance. Finally, potential resources to support the curriculum- including technology- are evaluated and professional learning needs are identified.
III. Professional Development & Refinement
At this point, committee members field test the units of study. Professional learning begins to prepare teachers for implementation of the newly developed curriculum. This is an essential step in the process because it ensures that the written curriculum becomes the taught curriculum. Teachers also become familiar with the resources and assessments to be used. Units of study and assessments are refined and plans are finalized for additional professional learning.
In this final phase, the committee has achieved its goal of providing District 95 students with challenging learning experiences. The written curriculum becomes the implemented curriculum across the district. Feedback is gathered from teachers on the curriculum, resources, and assessments. This information is gathered to inform future curriculum development and professional learning.
Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 promotes continuous learning through ongoing, job-embedded professional development. Quality professional development expands the capacity of the learning community by providing school staff with the content, process, knowledge, and skills to help all students achieve the District’s learner objectives as well as the mission.
Lake Zurich CUSD 95’s goals are to:
- Provide effective professional development linked to the District’s mission and school improvement goals by focusing on specific content knowledge and impactful instructional strategies.
- Promote continuous learning across all levels of education for the entire learning community and to ensure that such learning is incorporated into the teaching and learning process.
- Provide effective professional development that is continuous over time, research-based, and culturally relevant.
- Curriculum Committees
- Institute Day Strands
- Early Release Days
- Professional Learning Communities
- Out-of-District Conferences or Workshops
- School Improvement Process/Action Planning
- Administrator Training
- Mentor Program
Focus: Direct training/Curriculum development/Cohort Support/Instructional Planning
Committees are comprised of one teacher per grade level from each building and include specialists in that content area. There are also staff representation from special education and English Learners. These groups of teachers work as a cohort to collaboratively design modules, units, lessons, assessments, etc. to increase understanding and mastery of critical knowledge/skills in alignment with district and/or state benchmarks. Additionally, the committee identifies instructional strategies and techniques to enhance student achievement. Curriculum committees may meet monthly during the first two phases of development.
Focus: Sustained Professional Development
Effective implementation of the curriculum is dependent on a coherent professional development plan. Teachers choose a topic to study for the year. During institute days, teachers explore and plan to implement the instructional strategies being studied. This includes time to collaboratively develop lesson plans, reflect on the implementation and revise as necessary. The District has five dates identified as Teacher Institute days and one day identified as Teacher In-Service dedicated to the implementation of technology.
Focus: Job embedded professional development/collaboration
Job-alike teachers form a professional learning community that meets regularly to collaborate toward a shared curricular-focused vision. These teachers support and work with one another to address the following questions:
- What evidence do we have the students are achieving?
- What instructional practices would further enhance student learning?
- How do we support and meet the learning needs of all students?
Professional Learning Community teams meet weekly.
District 95 administrators often lead and participate in the professional development offered to teachers. This necessitates targeted professional development for administrators which is provided through:
Administrator Academy Courses
- Annually the District offers a full day Administrator’s Academy course that is aligned to the District Improvement Plan or district goals.
District Leadership Professional Learning Meetings
- On a monthly basis during the school year, and on a weekly basis during the summer, the District Leadership team participates in sustained professional development on topics that are aligned to the District Improvement Plan or district goals.
Analyzing Data for School Improvement
The mentoring program is grounded in authentic and embedded support for new staff to our District. Each new staff member will be appointed a mentor that will thoughtfully and intentionally guide new staff in the professional growth and networking that comes with being new to the education profession and new to our District.
Highlights of the program for New Staff Members:
Staff is not one size, fits all. We have aligned support to reflect those that come to us with experience or those that come to us new to the profession
New members will receive support from a team of people including the Mentor and the Learning Support Coach
New members will have the opportunity to observe in other settings
Our district is so fortunate to have skilled, dedicated, and inspirational personnel to support any new members that come our way.
Highlights of the Mentoring Role:
1-2 year commitment (based on years of experience of assigned mentee)
Meets 1-2x/month with the mentee (based on the tier)
Facilitates peer/classroom observations throughout the year
Mentor Website access for mentor monthly meeting resources aligned to the Danielson Framework and the D95 Instructional Model
An assessment system is like a photo album. Each assessment, like a single photograph, captures a single moment in time. It is the collection that provides a complete view of an experience or an individual."
A Balanced Assessment System provides information to a variety of people for a variety of purposes.
Standardized tests such as Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR), Advanced Placement (AP), and PSAT/SAT help the district answer the question, “Are our students meeting standards?” Data from these assessments assist in guiding our school improvement decisions.
Benchmark/Diagnostic assessments such as Fountas and Pinnell (F&P), NWEA’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), CogAT, and TOMAGS, as well as common grade level assessments, provide information about which standards our students are consistently mastering and which students may need support. In addition, data from these assessments support placement and school improvement decisions.
Formative assessments such as observations, student conferences, homework, and quizzes allow students, teachers and parents to understand where the student is now on the learning progression. Teachers use this data to determine what comes next.
Teachers, students, parents, and district decision makers need multiple data points to make decisions. Having multiple assessments is integral to continuous improvement. Every individual in District 95 uses assessment data to answer the questions: How am I (are we) doing? Where am I (are we) going? How can I (we) do better? An assessment system is like a photo album. Each assessment, like a single photograph, captures a single moment in time. It is the collection that provides a complete view of an experience or an individual.
Most importantly, students need to use the data to guide their learning. Research is clear that assessment capable learners have a higher rate of learning (Hattie 2012). Students need summative assessments to tell them how much they have learned at a given point in time (assessment of learning) and feedback on their current performance so they understand what they need to do to increase their learning (assessment for learning).
- Fountas & Pinnell
- PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, SAT
- Illinois Science Assessment (ISA)
- Testing Schedule
Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English Language Learners
A criterion referenced English language proficiency test designed to measure English language learners' social and academic proficiency in English. It assesses social and instructional English as well as the language associated with language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies within the school context across the four language domains.
Cognitive Abilities Test
To provide a description of the student’s own cognitive resources for learning. CogAT measures general reasoning and problem-solving skills and indicates how well the student uses these skills to solve verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal problems. It provides a picture of the student’s reasoning strength and weakness.
Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment
Evaluate student reading and comprehension ability against grade level criteria. The test includes the following components:
- Letter Recognition (kindergarten, beginning of the year)
- Early Literacy Concepts (kindergarten, beginning of the year)
- Phonological Awareness: Initial Sounds/ Rhyming (kindergarten, beginning of the year)
- Fluency (second trimester of kindergarten – fifth grade)
- Comprehension (second trimester of kindergarten – fifth grade)
Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress
The MAP tests are a computerized, adaptive assessment administered in the subject areas of reading and math. MAP tests are based on a continuum of skills and assist teachers in identifying the instructional level of the student while also provide context for determining where a student is performing in relation to standards and national norms. The MAP assessment is used to:
- Identify the grade level skills and concepts individual students have learned;
- Monitor academic growth over time;
- Provide data for classroom, school, and district decision-making; and
- Identify students for appropriate instructional programs
Identify student progress towards college & career readiness;
Monitor academic growth over time;
Provide data for classroom, school, and district decision-making;
Identify students for appropriate instructional programs
Test of Mathematical Abilities for Gifted Students
The TOMAGS is a standardized, norm-referenced test designed to assess mathematical talent in students 6 through 12 years of age. TOMAGS requires students to use mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills to understand how to communicate mathematically to solve problems. Results from the assessment are used to identify students who have talent in mathematics.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses allow high school students to get a taste of college level work, while learning the necessary academic skills for college success. AP tests provide students an opportunity to earn college credit, while still in high school. Some colleges allow students to bypass introductory level courses if they performed well on a corresponding AP test.
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test 8/9
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test 10
Scholastic Aptitude Test
The College Board SAT Suite of Assessments is given to all students in 9th through 11th grades every spring as a federally required measure of student mastery of the Illinois Learning Standards. The test contains questions on Evidenced based reading and writing and mathematics.
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test
The PSAT/NMSQT connects students to the National Merit Scholarship program and provides feedback on readiness for college access. All students take this test in the fall of their 11th grade year.
Illinois Assessment of Readiness
The Illinois Assessment of Readiness is a federally required measure of student mastery of the Illinois Learning Standards in English language arts and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 -- and their readiness for what’s next. The assessment contains questions to test students’ knowledge of key concepts and critical thinking, reasoning, research, communication, and problem solving skills. The data is used to show how much students’ have grown and what standards they have mastered in order to improve instruction and support student learning.
The Illinois Science Assessment is a federally required measure of student mastery of the Illinois Learning Standards for Science, incorporating the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), adopted in 2014.
The assessment is administered to students enrolled in grades 5, 8 and 11, and is administered in an online format.