Vision for Curriculum Development

Madison Public Schools believes all students should have access to a high quality, engaging, education. There are ex­pectations of success for all students with units that encourage student exploration and inquiry.

The curriculum is content rich, offering stu­dents opportunities to learn important concepts and procedures with understanding, while simultaneously providing students with opportunities to explore and grow in identified 21st Century Capacities. These multi-disciplinary outcomes (critical thinking; creative thinking; communication/collaboration; self-direction; and global thinking) are thoughtfully and purposefully embedded throughout the curriculum alongside content that is informed by state and national standards.

A common language is articulated accurately and it reflects accepted practice within the discipline and/or current educational research and promotes the work of the discipline. The written documents in each grade level include key required components, including the scope of the material and the depth of understanding that is expected upon unit completion.

Maps for courses and grade levels define the pace and common expectations of a content. Teachers use these maps to guide and sequence instruction toward the attainment of key concepts detailed in the unit design. Unit design follows the Understanding by Design (UbD) Model by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins although personalized to match the work valued in Madison. There are three stages in the UbD model:

Stage One:

Desired Results- what students will know and be able to do as the result of participation in this unit.

Stage Two:

Evidence of Learning- valid, varied and reliable assessments that include formative and summative measures

Stage Three:

The Learning Plan- a range of learning experiences that prepare students to demonstrate the desired results.

K-12 Alignment

Vertical alignment is assured through guiding documents in each discipline that combine the priorities in state/national documents, Madison 21st century capacities, and long term student outcomes. These guiding documents are accessed frequently to develop a learning pathway to prioritized student outcomes.

Continuity in instruction, across a grade level and within a content, is developed by assured learning experiences, or key cognitive learning experiences. The goal is to help learners to process, rehearse, store, or transfer new learning or tasks that create experiences for students to demonstrate increasing proficiency on the specified content.

Knowledgeable teachers have adequate resources to support their work and are continually growing as professionals. Professional Development is a priority as we develop curriculum that requires teachers to build an instructional repertoire to allow our students to explore both content and 21st century capacities.

The Curriculum Review Council (CRC) provides clear guidance and feedback for curriculum writers. The primary function of the CRC is to uphold criteria for district design and assessment standards. All documents are reviewed by the Council prior to presentation to the Madison Board of Education.


The need to test what we value, and value what we test, drives our assessment system. The assessment package in each unit includes measuring content knowledge, content and concept understanding, 21st century capacities, and the ability to apply learning to unique and authentic problems clearly delineated in the curricular documents.

Assessments are common to the grade level and/or course and are analyzed to examine student learning and inform curriculum, instruction, and assessment revisions. Common formative assessments at all levels allow for informed teaching that attends to individual, small group, and whole group needs. Both formative and summative assessments have clear criteria and identify areas in which the student can make further progress. Performance based assessments and other common summative assessments measure student understanding and ability to transfer learning.