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Curriculum is a critical factor in student academic success, but currently available curricula vary dramatically in term of quality. Rhode Island is committed to ensuring all students have access to a consistent curricular framework and use of high-quality instructional materials.

Curriculum Definition

Curriculum is a standards -based sequence of planned experiences where students practice and achieve proficiency in  content and applied learning skills. Curriculum is the central guide for all educators as to what is essential for teaching and learning, so that every student has access to rigorous academic experiences. The structure, organization, and considerations in a curriculum are created in order to enhance student learning and facilitate instruction. Curriculum must include the necessary goals, methods, materials and assessments to effectively support instruction and learning.  


Goals within a curriculum are the standards-based benchmarks or expectations for teaching and learning. Most often, goals are made explicit in the form of a scope and sequence of skills to be addressed. Goals must include the breadth and depth to which a student is expected to learn. 


Methods are the instructional decisions, approaches, procedures, and routines that teachers use to engage all students in meaningful learning. These choices support the facilitation of learning experiences in order to promote a student’s ability to understand and apply content and skills. Methods are differentiated to meet student needs and interests, task demands, and learning environment. Methods are adjusted based on ongoing review of student progress towards meeting the goals. 


Materials are the tools selected to implement methods and achieve the goals of the curriculum. Materials are intentionally chosen to support a student's learning. Material choices reflect student interest, cultural diversity, world perspectives, and address all types of diverse learners.  


Assessment in a curriculum is the ongoing process of gathering information about a student’s learning. This includes a variety of ways to document what the student knows, understands, and can do with their knowledge and skills. Information from assessment is used to make decisions about instructional approaches, teaching materials, and academic supports needed to enhance opportunities for the student and to guide future instruction.

Curriculum Definition Resources

As part of an overall strategy to have high-quality curriculum in all Rhode Island schools, the Rhode Island Department of Education felt it was an important first step to develop common language about curriculum. This effort starts with a definition of curriculum of which the whole state is aligned.

Curriculum Matters - Register to attend workshop on June 5

Educators invited to attend Curriculum Matters: Accessing High Quality Curriculum Materials on June 5

The research is clear that high quality curriculum materials are critical factor in student success. As part of our efforts to ensure all students in Rhode Island have access to high quality curriculum materials, all Rhode Island educators – especially those with an interest in Mathematics or English Language Arts – are invited to attend Curriculum Matters: Accessing High Quality Curriculum Materials on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Warwick, RI (lunch will be provided).

This opportunity will be facilitated by EdReports – a free, independent, and nonprofit organization that, since 2015, has posted more than 200 reports for different grades and course levels to support the need to identify high quality curriculum materials for educators – and will be a full-day interactive experience focusing on the following:

  • Learning about high quality curriculum materials: review process, characteristics, and impact on student achievement
  • Exploring the EdReports website, curriculum reviews, and process
  • Reviewing example high quality curriculum

Register online via eRIDE for either the Mathematics session or English Language Arts session (team registration is encouraged: principal, classroom teachers, coaches). Please email Kate Schulz at kate.schulz@ride.ri.gov with any questions.

Why Curriculum Matters:  The Need for High-Quality Curriculum

High-quality instructional materials are designed to help build a teacher’s content knowledge, provide guidance to inform lesson planning and offer structures to support collaboration with other teachers.

Research shows that students gain months of learning when teachers use high-quality instructional materials.  The average middle school student using aligned math textbooks gains about 8 months of additional learning compared with a student using unaligned materials (Kane & Owens, 2016). A 2013 quasi-experimental study from Mathematica conducted in five high-poverty Expeditionary Learning schools in Washington, D.C. and New York City found positive academic effects in both reading and math – and the positive impacts increased the longer the school used the materials (Expeditionary Learning is a highly standards-aligned curriculum).

High Quality Curriculum

High-quality curriculum materials have been verified as aligned to rigorous college- and career-ready standards. When defining high-quality curriculum materials Rhode Island is adopting the work of EdReports a nationally recognized organization providing expert reviews of materials.

EdReports is an independent nonprofit designed to improve K-12 education that provides free reviews of K-12 instructional materials based on alignment to college and career-ready standards. EdReports conducted research into the use commonly used rubrics, observed review processes and trainings, gathered input from more than 500 educators on criteria and rubrics, and convened an Anchor Educator Working Group (AEWG) of expert practitioners to inform the creation of their review tools. Content area and grade span specific review criteria are available for download here.

Achieve also has posted examples of high-quality instructional materials that have been evaluated by the EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science.  Science units that have earned the highest rating on the EQuIP Rubric are designated with the NGSS Design Badge.  

Tools for Evaluating, Selecting, and Improving Curriculum

EdReports is an independent non-profit designed to improve K-12 education that provides free reviews of K-12 instructional materials based on alignment to college and career-ready standards.

  • Making the Most of Your Curriculum Materials - from EdReports – Mathematics and English Language Arts guides to help education communities analyze how well instructional materials are aligned and what adjustments may need to be considered in order to ensure all students have access to high-quality resources.

Textbook Alignment and Adoptions - from Achieve the Core - Review tools for textbook alignment to the shifts and textbook adaptations.  

Achieve has developed a range of tools that can be used to evaluate science instructional materials for their alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards.  

Curriculum Research and Resources

Curriculum Used in Rhode Island

Curriculum Used in Rhode Island 

For the past two years, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has been conducting a survey of district/LEA Reading and Mathematics curriculum materials used in grades K-8. The Rhode Island Curriculum List shows which K-8 Reading and Mathematics curricular materials are being used in each LEA/district in Rhode Island and designates them as either red, yellow, or green in terms of quality, or not yet rated or locally developed.  RIDE also developed a presentation that explains the curriculum survey process and the importance of selecting high-quality curriculum materials and professional learning.  

EdReports curriculum reviews were used as a basis for the RIDE curriculum rating system.  EdReports is an independent nonprofit designed to improve K-12 education that provides free reviews of K-12 instructional materials based on alignment to college and career-ready standards.

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