The first step to closing the achievement gap is believing it is possible. There are monumental challenges facing education these days but if we do not have the courage to take the first step in believing things can change -transformation will never be possible. All students have the potential to grow. Universal Design for Learning is a framework for removing specific barriers that keep our learners from thriving in the areas of engagement, content representation, and action & expression. This framework is built on importance of this belief in all students.
Next in our quest to close the achievement gap is setting and maintaining high expectations. Learners need to be confronted with instruction that aligns clearly with the rigor of the standards or learning targets. When learners are presented with these rigorous expectations in conjunction with a teacher that believes in them and gives them the tools they need to be successful - they will grow. As we continue down the road to ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum, stay tethered to the clear non-negotiables and correct depth-of-knowledge level of each standard. This way lessons and assessments stay grounded in these important foundations. Remember these expectations represent core instruction and ALL students need equal access to this rigor.
The last step to closing the achievement gap is giving learners flexible tools and strategies for meeting these rigorous expectations. This is where Universal Design for Learning comes in. Once we have the required skills for mastery and we have our learning goal or target, we have the needed information for which lesson elements are fixed and which can be flexible. How students engage with the standard, how the standard is represented, and how they show their understanding of the standard (in ways that meet our non-negotiables) can all be flexibly designed to accommodate our students' incredible diversity! As we move into our spring PD schedule, keep these important steps in mind. Reflect on how we as a Professional Learning Community can continue to walk together toward this end for the flourishing of our incredible students and community!
Sanger unified school district
Curriculum & Instruction department