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Curriculum & Standards

Like you, we understand the importance and challenge of providing every student with standards-based curriculum that is both rigorous and allows for personalized, engaging learning opportunities. As a national leader in improving and developing standards, we help ensure your curriculum not only aligns with local, regional, or national academic standards but also has the depth, effectiveness, and teachability necessary to prepare all students for school and life success.

What happens during a curriculum audit?

A curriculum audit can help your school, district, or state evaluate the effectiveness, depth, and alignment of curriculum to ensure curricular pathways to success for all students. We’ll identify areas of effectiveness and help you set priorities for areas that most need improvement, while keeping in mind the critical importance of developing curricula that can be reasonably taught in the time allotted, allowing teachers to help students develop deep knowledge of what they’re learning. Our process follows three steps:

  • Step 1—Plan for audit activities: We meet with school leaders to discuss the audit process, clarify questions intended to be answered by the audit, and identify points of contact.

  • Step 2—Conduct an external analysis of written curriculum documents and assessments to determine the extent of alignment between written documents with national academic standards

    . We seek to answer three questions:

    • To what extent is content from each selected course aligned to national academic standards?

    • To what extent does the curriculum provide opportunities to engage students in content area practices (mathematical practices, close reading, and discourse structures, etc.)?

    • To what extent does a sampling of course assessments align with national academic standards and the written curriculum?

  • Step 3—Conduct classroom observations of the taught curriculum to determine the extent of alignment between written documents, standards, and classroom instruction. This step will conclude with a report of findings organized around the audit questions, including appendices with data that support the findings and recommendations for next steps.

We can help ensure that your curriculum aligns with local, regional, or national academic standards.


What is a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC)?

Ways McREL Can Support Your Schools' Success

Developing a Guaranteed & Viable Curriculum (GVC)

A quality curriculum review and design helps your school or district refine areas of effectiveness and identify opportunities for improvement. Our GVC consultants ensure teachers are teaching essential content and skills, using instructional strategies effectively, and sequencing the curriculum to give students multiple opportunities to learn the content. 


Standards Development

Through a process of qualitative and comparative analysis, we determine how well your curriculum materials align with state standards, identify opportunities for improving rigor, and ensure your standards reflect a research-based scope and sequence. We also can facilitate the implementation of standards, create aligned instructional materials, and develop “crosswalks” between content areas.

Career Technical Education (CTE)

Our experienced consultants can help ensure that your students are engaged in real-world problems and tasks, while still meeting the demands of rigorous academic standards. We offer crosswalks and alignment studies—which identify the academic skills required by and embedded within various CTE pathways and courses—and develop curriculum frameworks for CTE that incorporate research-based instructional strategies.

Ethics and Professional Standards

As a research organization, McREL conducts large studies to develop evidence of effectiveness for a variety of programs, as well as smaller projects, like fast-response studies, that address client-specific needs. McREL will ensure that data collected through focus groups, interviews, and classroom observations adheres to concerns for privacy and security. All research and evaluation projects are managed in a manner consistent with the Program Evaluation Standards developed by the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, and all McREL employees adhere to the American Psychological Association’s Code of Ethics and work under a set of core values aligned with the American Evaluation Association’s (AEA’s) Guiding Principles for Evaluators (2018).
McREL staff have been involved in prior reviews of the Guiding Principles in service to the AEA, have taught graduate-level evaluation courses using the Program Evaluation Standards, and have infused the standards into national presentations as well as internal conversations regarding evaluative practice.

Contact us today to start a conversation with our team about your school or district goals,

and how our leadership development services can support your journey.