California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II

Pacing guides

In contrast to curriculum maps, pacing guides are like timelines showing what each teaching team plans to cover over the course of a year. Each subject area follows a logical sequence within a grade level and between grade levels. To help teachers provide the same content to each student no matter which school he or she attends (an equity issue addressed in Recommendation 7—Access, the State Board-adopted instructional materials come with a publisher’s suggested planning guide. The materials sequence the content standards in a logical and progressive manner. It is the responsibility of both the district and the school to collaboratively review and modify the publisher’s planning guides to include in the local district pacing guides. To develop pacing guides for each grade-level academic area, district teams use the following resources:

The pacing guides include a schedule of when assessments will be administered. The assessments help teachers know what students are learning, who is learning at the suggested pace, and who is not learning at the suggested pace. Although failure is not an option, slowing the pace for struggling students is also not a viable option as it is unfair to proficient and advanced students. It is critical that schools and districts develop a plan to keep students learning at an engaging pace and support those who are not keeping pace by providing appropriate instructional support, such as additional classes, tutoring, and small-group remediation.

In the Spotlight

Rancho Cucamonga Middle School, Cucamonga School District, a 2006 On the Right Track School
Aligning each grade-level course to the standards and developing pacing and sequencing across the school has helped this school formerly designated a Program Improvement (PI) school to make impressive gains in student achievement—enough to be designated a 2006 On the Right Track school.1 After teaching teams integrated all the standards in the curriculum, they established the scope and sequence of every standard. Then they created a yearlong calendar (by course and grade level) so that teachers could teach all standards covered on the California Standards Tests by April, leaving two weeks for review of concepts that students missed on district benchmark assessments. Teachers cover the remaining standards between April and June.

Because of the close alignment of instruction and the standards, school staff members have realized the following benefits:

Backward mapping

Grades and effective standards-based reporting

1On the Right Track schools: Symposium 1 (2003); Symposium 2 (2004); Symposium 3 (2005); Symposium 4 (2006)

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