Rigor- Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment
C.I.A. Not the Central Intelligence Agency, although I’m sure that as teachers, the task of implementing rigor can often seem as challenging as taking on a mission for the C.I.A. In this case, however, these three letters represent three components that must be present and working together in a fluid and balanced manner in order for true rigor to be present. Curriculum. Instruction. Assessment. What one teaches, how one engages students as active learners, and the methods one uses to determine how well students can apply that which they have learned. Despite their individual meanings, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment are like three parts of one whole, all necessary and all creating a sort of cyclical yet non-directional system in order for the whole to function as intended.
How can the relationship between Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment be both cyclical and non-directional?
Let’s look first at the non-directional nature: Often, while one is instructing, one realizes that a key piece of information must be revisited, and therefore switches back to determining content and order (i.e., curriculum) of instruction. Furthermore, perhaps an assessment has played a pivotal role in one’s decision to revisit the content matter and order. Certainly, as part of instruction, teachers must provide authentic, specific, and ongoing assessments in order to inform instructional methods and content matter, including order, pacing, grouping, etc. If our assessment(s) reveal(s) gaps in students’ understanding, we may have to revisit the Instruction phase, or even the Curriculum phase.
Now, the cyclical nature seems quite logical: Determine what to teach and in what order (Curriculum), develop how to teach the content so that students are active and involved participants rather than passive recipients (Instruction), and continually monitor how well students understand and apply the information and ideas (Assessment). THEN, use data compiled from assessment to restart the process of determining what to teach next, how to teach it, how to assess, and so on and so on.
Finally, within this interwoven C.I.A. relationship, high expectations must be consistently upheld. Learners thrive under challenging conditions in which they have access to the tools, strategies, and skills to manage content matter. Additionally, they thrive when the person guiding their learning expresses sincere belief in their abilities to succeed.
Because I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of graphic organizers, I want to challenge you now to develop a graphic organizer that models the relationship between high expectations, curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Remember that this relationship results in and from the key element for which we are striving: Rigor.A special thank you to Ginny Ramirez Del-Toro for her thoughts that led to this blog!