The CSUSA Educational Model is based on the research of Robert J. Marzano’s What Works in Schools, and begins with our Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC). A GVC is primarily a combination of the factors “opportunity to learn” and “time.” The concept of “Opportunity to Learn” (OTL) is a simple but powerful one – if students do not have the opportunity to learn the content expected of them, there is little chance that they will. OTL addresses the extent to which the curriculum in a school is “guaranteed.” This means that there must be clear guidance to teachers regarding the content to be addressed in specific courses and at specific grade levels. It also means that individual teachers do not have the option to disregard or replace assigned content (Marzano, 2003). The concept of time is also simple. The content that teachers are expected to address must be adequately covered in the instructional time teachers have available. CSUSA has developed a scope and sequence for all subjects aligned to the Florida Sunshine State Standards and Florida Grade Level Expectations to ensure that the CSUSA curriculum is both guaranteed and viable. Our GVC ensures academic excellence in every classroom, and encourages steady academic progress toward mastery of the Sunshine State Standards as students build their knowledge and skills from one year to the next.
Student Assessment and Performance
The use of student assessment and performance data is vital to the CSUSA Educational Model, a continuous improvement process that is not only used to improve student learning and achievement, but also used to evaluate and inform instruction. With the CSUSA Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum at its core, the CSUSA Educational Model begins with a baseline assessment and analysis of all the available student performance data. The first administration of the CSUSA Benchmark Test is one of the primary ways the school will activate students’ background knowledge, establish current baseline levels of mastery of specific skills and identify specific areas of need for all students. Teachers use the data from the CSUSA Benchmark Test to differentiate instruction of specific skills through various instructional and regrouping strategies to ensure that individual student needs are addressed; this is data-driven instruction.
To evaluate student learning and the effectiveness of instruction, the teacher will give students formative assessments on those specific skills. The teacher then grades the assessment and gives feedback to students and parents, verbally, as well as through the CSUSA Student Information System (SIS). Based on the results of the assessment, the teacher then decides to either reteach specific skills not mastered or go back to baseline assessment to activate student’s background knowledge on the new skill to be introduced. It is this informed, targeted instruction that makes CSUSA’s classrooms more than a place where students merely absorb information, but a center of active, engaged learning that is proactive, dynamic and lasting.
Keeping Parents and Students Informed
In addition to data driving instruction in the classroom, the data is also available to parents and students through our Student Information System (SIS), to create a unique partnership with the home environment. SIS is a web-based tool to assist in the daily communication and information maintenance of the school. Parents can view their child’s academic grades as well as their child’s areas of strength and need in order to participate in addressing their child’s academic progress. Students are also involved in their own continuous improvement process. All students maintain a portfolio demonstrating and charting improvement and mastery of skills required at the student’s particular grade level. This portfolio becomes part of their Personal Learning Plan (PLP) which is the compendium of parent, student and teacher conferences. The PLP establishes academic goals for each individual student in relation to the student’s performance and progress. The PLP is created for each student at the beginning of the school year and is modified throughout the year as the student progresses.