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.
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 gifted 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.
District 95 has experienced an increase of English Language Learners (EL) students. Lake Zurich provides all schools with a TPI (Transitional Program of Instruction) program as well as a Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) programs in Spanish, Polish, and Russian at qualifying schools.
A transitional program of instruction (TPI) is offered for all (EL) student language groups for whom there are less than 20 students who qualify for services. This program is provided in English to support EL students develop English language proficiency across all academic content areas.
TBE Full-Time Program
When an attendance center has an enrollment of 20 or more EL students of the same language, the school district provides a transitional bilingual education (TBE) program for each language classification represented by those students. Assessment of those students determines their specific programmatic needs for placement in either a full-time or a part-time program.
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, advanced classes in math, gifted classes in 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 gifted specialist at each elementary building who is responsible for providing replacement math services in second through fifth grades. This teacher assists with flexible grouping at the second grade, and has a math pull-out class called Math Replacement at grades three through five. The math class is an accelerated course. No other gifted services are offered at the elementary level.
At the middle school level, the gifted 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 there are no gifted classes. Students who were previously identified as gifted may be recommended for Honors or AP classes as available.
Studies show there is a direct correlation with reading scores and the strength of the school library. Each District 95 school has a Library Media Center staffed with a licensed Library Media Specialist and an aide. At the elementary level, the Library Media Specialist provides weekly instruction to students to develop library and research skills as well as instructional technology skills. At the middle schools and high school, the library is an integral curricular support for teachers and students. At all levels, materials are thoughtfully selected and vetted to promote literacy and provide adequate research resources for students.
K-5 Literacy and Instructional Technology Curriculum
The K-5 Library Media Specialists have participated in the curriculum revision process for the Instructional Technology lessons taught in the LMCs. With this curriculum revision work there are some shifts occurring in the K-5 Instructional Technology Curriculum:
- Continuing revision and development of units at each grade level to provide instruction on internet safety, literature/genre study, and using LMC resources for research
- Increasing emphasis on research and close reading in the LMC
- Implementing the Independent Investigation Method (IIM)
Library Media Center procedures vary by grade level. Please visit your child’s school webpage to find more information about specific LMC 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-11 include additional instructional time with a certified reading specialist provided in a small group using one of the following evidence-based interventions: Reading Recovery (grade 1 only), Guided Reading Plus (K-3), or Comprehension Focus Groups (3-11).
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 Target 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
- In-District Workshops
- Out-of-District Conferences or Workshops
- School Improvement Process/Action Planning
- Administrator Training
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.
Focus: Direct training/job embedded professional development
These “just-in-time” on-site workshops support teachers with job-embedded professional learning for newly implemented curriculum or structures. These workshops may include case studies, lesson studies, demonstration lessons, and coaching support.
While the district offers a variety of workshops, the district has identified and provided a graduate level course which is the foundation for impactful teaching and learning in Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95. This course is essential for the rest of our work. In order to engage in meaningful conversations about professional practice, members of the educational community must have a shared understanding of the knowledge and skills that promote learning. Since 2010, the district has offered the graduate course Studying Skillful Teaching: Using Data Day-To-Day.
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 Teaching for Student Results
- A graduate course focused on providing specific feedback to teachers.
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).
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
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.