Frequently Asked Questions

AUGUST, 2009
What is a guaranteed and viable curriculum (GVC)?
A curriculum is guaranteed when all teachers across the district provide the necessary learning
experiences and supports for students to master the essential learnings. The curriculum is viable
because the number of essential learnings is manageable for a student to learn within a school year or
the duration of a specific course.
2. What is Backward Design and how can I learn more about it?
Backward design is a process of identifying learning outcomes in order to design curriculum units,
performance assessments and classroom instruction. The curriculum planning sequence involves the
following three stages: Identify desired results (essential learnings), determine acceptable evidence, and
plan learning experiences and instruction. The central premise of this approach is teaching for
understanding. Professional development activities will be planned by the CAI team to support learning
more about backward design this year. For additional information, please read Understanding by Design
by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.
3. Why and how has the curriculum changed?
We have long been dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and equity and how we can impact the
achievement of every child. We have spent many of our prior years studying the work of national leaders
and what they say about teaching and learning. Many of you have embraced that work and have made
many changes within our schools based on what we know about best practices in curriculum, instruction
and assessment. As a district, we must now bring coherence into the system through the implementation
of the Curriculum Essentials Documents (CED).
Features of the CED include the following:
Unit Design Templates
Curriculum Map Templates
Curriculum Glossary of Terms
Content area Background pages including an Introduction, Philosophy and History
Content area K-12 Scope and Sequence
Defined components for each content standard: Enduring Understandings, Essential Questions,
Essential Learnings, Essential Knowledge, Skills, Topics, Processes and Concepts, and Key
Academic Vocabulary
Curriculum summary pages for each revised grade level and secondary level course: Course
Description, Key Concepts/Topics, Effective Components, Assessment Strategies, Essential
Questions and Technology/Information Literacy Integration
Suggested Timelines
A summary of curriculum changes for each content area can be found on this website.
4. What are the expectations for implementation of the GVC?
Elementary teachers should implement at least one unit per content area during the 09-10 school year.
At the secondary level, each teacher should implement at least one new unit per semester which
incorporates the new curriculum essentials. Teachers who are on the evaluation cycle may need to
discuss how to incorporate this goal into the evaluation process. Full implementation of the GVC should
be in place for all teachers by August, 2010.
5. What if I don’t have the classroom resources to support the curriculum?
The learning materials adoption cycle will continue in BVSD. K-12 Science and Elementary Music will
receive their adoption materials this month. Social Studies and Health will be adopting materials that
support the new GVC during this school year. Most of the new units can be implemented using existing
6. What changes have been made to the reporting system?
All elementary report cards have been revised to include the essential learnings for each content area .
Report card drafts will be provided to elementary teachers during the first week of school. Final report
cards will be ready by week nine. At the secondary level, our ongoing work with standards-based grading
will support the GVC. Aligning reporting systems with the new curriculum is an important part of this
7. Why change the curriculum now? Isn’t the curriculum just going to change this year when
the state standards are revised?
The CAI team has kept abreast of the proposed changes and some staff have served on state level
committees. The Colorado Content Standards will be adopted by the state board in December of this year
at the earliest. After this step, BVSD has until 2012 to fully implement the changes.
8. What support will be provided to teachers through this transition?
The GVC will be formally introduced to all teachers by principals and a member of the BVSD School
Leadership team during the first week of school. Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction (CAI) will host
two voluntary Open House sessions on August 17 and 18 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m in the Aspen Room
at the Education Center. All BVSD teachers will participate in a professional development session
focused on curriculum during the afternoon of September 18. Content area curriculum councils will
discuss and review the curriculum throughout the year during council sessions. Additional professional
development sessions will be provided by the CAI team.
9. Where will I find the time to implement the new GVC?
Everyone is committed to the successful implementation of the GVC. Your school professional
development plan should include time devoted to this effort. In addition, each teacher will have time for
curriculum planning on the afternoon of September 18th.
10. How do I differentiate the curriculum for talented and gifted (TAG) students?
Three key words to remember are depth, pace, and complexity. Appropriate differentiation for gifted
students allows them to access increasing levels of advanced, abstract, and complex enduring
understandings and essential questions within the curriculum. Examples of appropriately challenging
educational experiences for TAG students include:
acceleration of instruction;
in-depth study;
a high degree of complexity within or across content areas;
advanced content; and/or;
variety in content and form.
The enduring understandings and essential questions are the foundation. Use them to build depth, pace,
and complexity into your curriculum.
11. As an ESL teachers do I use the English Language Development Standard in the CED or
the profile to guide my instruction?
Use the English Language Development Standards to guide your instruction. The profile can help you be
more specific. It is also a monitoring tool that is a continuum. Both documents can also help you
collaborate with the content/classroom teacher in order to differentiate instruction for English Language