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For several years, DC Public Schools has been at the forefront of a movement to give students a coherent body of knowledge starting in kindergarten. It’s a commendable effort but still a work in progress.

Some of DCPS’s education reform efforts, such as teacher evaluations and school closures, have drawn a lot of attention. But few people have noticed a fundamental initiative to change what and how teachers teach. If successful, it could help narrow the District’s persistent achievement gap.

Until four years ago, DCPS teachers were left largely on their own in deciding the specifics of what they would teach. To find texts, they worked backward from a set of learning standards that students were supposed to meet by the end of the year.

An English standard might say: “Students will be able to identify the main topic of a multi-paragraph text.” And while standards in social studies and science were more specific, teachers got little guidance on classroom practice.

Continue reading this op-ed in The Washington Post.

Tagged: dcps, education

Natalie Wexler is a DC education journalist and blogger. She chairs the board of The Writing Revolution and serves on the Urban Teachers DC Regional Leadership Council, and she has been a volunteer reading and writing tutor in high-poverty DC Public Schools.