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Policy 8000 – Curriculum

The purpose of this policy is to provide a process to manage the curriculum by establishing the structure for curriculum design and implementation and a systematic basis for decision-making and standardized practice.

Policy Document

I. Policy Value Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County (Board) recognizes that the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) curriculum provides the foundation of the district’s educational program and ensures that students, regardless of the schools they attend, receive a dynamic and educational program that nurtures their cognitive, social and emotional well-being and affirms their identity and experience in order to maximize each student’s individual potential. Instruction is based on the same curriculum standards and students are expected to achieve consistently at high levels of performance commensurate with local, state, national, and international peers. The Board further recognizes the need and value of a systemic ongoing program of curriculum review and development. The Board supports individualization and enrichment to ensure that all students meet or exceed these achievement standards in order to reach their individual potential.

The Board will support the efforts of HCPSS employees to develop, refine, and improve curricular programs, evaluate results, and participate in professional development activities.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide a process to manage the curriculum by establishing the structure for curriculum design and implementation and a systematic basis for decision-making and standardized practice.

III. Standards

  1. General

    The Board expects that a well-designed curriculum:

    1. Promotes continuity of learning acquisition and application of knowledge and skills from grade to grade and from school to school.

    2. Is appropriate for all students and meets the needs of diverse learners.

    3. Conforms to local and state requirements regarding essential knowledge and skills for program and course offerings.

    4. Reflects current research, best practices, data, and technological advancements within and among disciplines.

    5. Promotes congruence among written, taught, and assessed content.

    6. Provides strategies for differentiation of instruction, pacing and resources.

    7. Includes sample resources that illustrate multiple ways of representing information, multiple ways students can demonstrate what they know, and multiple ways to engage learners with the content of the unit or lesson.

    8. Is regularly evaluated and revised.

  2. Written Curriculum

    1. The written curriculum will provide students, teachers, administrators, parents, families, and community members with the Board’s expectations of what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level and course.

    2. In accordance with Policy 1080 Educational Equity, the written curriculum will include a representation of diverse perspectives and experiences, including those of historically marginalized and oppressed peoples who have been traditionally excluded or underrepresented in curriculum.

    3. Subject area written curriculum, scope and sequence, curriculum documents, and written materials for parents and families will be developed for every grade level and course.

    4. All curriculum will be documented in writing in a standardized format.

    5. Each subject area curriculum will be reviewed and revised on a periodic basis.

    6. HCPSS school-based employees will have access to curriculum documents online through a learning management system and use the standards to implement the curriculum.

    7. HCPSS families will have access to curriculum standards via the HCPSS website.

    8. School administrators and HCPSS employees will work to maintain consistency among the written curriculum, the taught curriculum, and what students have learned as measured by assessments.

    9. Professional development will be designed and implemented on an ongoing basis to prepare HCPSS employees to teach the written curriculum and ensure employees have appropriate knowledge, skills, and practices to teach effectively.

    10. Curriculum assessments will include the following components:

      1. International and national standards and assessments as appropriate, including the Advanced Placement program.

      2. Statewide assessment as required.

      3. Local curriculum and curriculum-based tasks.

      4. An electronic information management system at the classroom, school, and Central Office levels that will provide teachers, principals, other HCPSS employees, and parents with regularly reported individual student data to support coordination of instructional planning, student, assessment and placement, instructional delivery, and program evaluation.

    11. A variety of evaluations will be used to determine the effectiveness of the written curriculum, the taught curriculum, and the assessed curriculum.

  3. Classroom Implementation of Curriculum

    1. The classroom implementation of curriculum will be aligned with the written curriculum to promote a high degree of consistency.

    2. Teachers will include a representation of diverse perspectives and experiences in the taught curriculum as provided in the written curriculum.

    3. All student instructional programs will be aligned to the systemwide curriculum and will be integrated into curriculum delivery.

    4. Teachers will use HCPSS curriculum resources as a guide for implementing the curriculum.

  4. Assessment

    1. A systematic process will be in place for assessing student performance. This process will provide for the acquisition, analysis, and communication of student performance data.

    2. Assessments may take a variety of forms, including tests, performance tasks, portfolios, presentations, essays, research papers, and other products to demonstrate mastery of curriculum standards.

    3. Student assessment on curriculum standards will be ongoing.

    4. Teachers and HCPSS school-based employees will use assessment results to:

      1. Determine the extent to which students meet or exceed curriculum standards.

      2. Create flexible instructional groups of students.

      3. Identify general achievement trends of various groups of students.

      4. Adapt instructional practices as warranted by student results.

      5. Communicate academic progress to parents to support learning.

    5. HCPSS Central Office employees will use student performance data to identify general achievement trends of various student groups to make systemwide improvements to curriculum alignment and resources and make programmatic decisions.

IV. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/designee will develop, implement, and monitor a process for the development and review of the school system’s curriculum and assessment programs that complies with state and local requirements.

  2. The Superintendent/designee will provide the curriculum standards online and will communicate with families to provide directions to access the standards and family resources.

  3. The Superintendent/designee will provide HCPSS employees with access to all curriculum resources developed by HCPSS. In addition, identified HCPSS employees will be provided with access, in accordance with purchasing agreements/licenses, to those resources purchased by HCPSS.

  4. HCPSS school-based employees and administrators will ensure implementation of the written curriculum in the classroom.

  5. School-based administrators will monitor the implementation of the written curriculum in the classroom.

  6. The Superintendent/designee will provide to the Board a summary of annual curriculum and assessment development activities for the Board’s approval, including the addition and deletion of high school courses each fall.

V. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop appropriate procedures for the implementation of this policy.

VI. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, these definitions apply:

  1. Acceleration – The mastery of curriculum standards beyond what is expected, allowing a student performing below expectations to attain levels of performance that match or exceed system expectations, and a student performing at or above expectations to progress beyond expected levels of performance.

  2. Assessment – An evaluation of what students know and/or can do.

  3. Curriculum – The prescribed elements of programs and courses which state clearly and specifically what students are expected to know and be able to do, how well they will be able to do it, how they will meet the learning objectives, and by what means they will be assessed.

    1. Learned Curriculum – The mastery of curriculum standards as demonstrated by assessments of student performance.

    2. Taught Curriculum – Instruction that is delivered to students by HCPSS school-based employees based on the written curriculum.

    3. Written Curriculum – The HCPSS curriculum that is developed centrally and any appropriate extensions designed to meet the needs of learners.

  4. Curriculum and Assessment Development – A process to develop and revise curriculum and curriculum-based assessments in accordance with local, state, and federal standards and laws through a partnership endeavor among multiple stakeholders, including Board of Education members, HCPSS employees, students, parents, families, and community members.

  5. Curriculum Resources – Electronic and/or print files that contain the HCPSS curriculum and sample assessments. These files typically include background material on required content and suggested instructional strategies, sample unit and lesson plan formats, assessment procedures, and support materials.

  6. Curriculum Standards – The learning outcomes that students are expected to master, reflect the best knowledge of the developmental needs of learners, and comply with requirements from local policy and state law.

  7. HCPSS Employee – Any individual who is a permanent or temporary employee of the HCPSS whose compensation is paid in whole or part by the Board, including but not limited to, teachers, substitute teachers, paraeducators, and other school-based and Central Office support staff.

  8. Individualization – The process by which instruction and educational supports are adjusted to take advantage of student strengths to meet the unique needs of students and maximize their learning potential.

  9. Mastery – Comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject.

VIII. History

ADOPTED: February 12, 2004

REVIEWED: February 24, 2022

MODIFIED: June 12, 2014


  • June 9, 2005

  • March 9, 2023

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2023

Policy History Key

  • Adopted-Original date the Board took action to approve a policy
  • Reviewed-The date the status of a policy was assessed by the Superintendent’s Standing Policy Group
  • Modified-The date the Board took action to alter a policy that based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee did not require a comprehensive examination
  • Revised-The date the Board took action on a that policy based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee needed a comprehensive examination
  • Effective-The date a policy is implemented throughout the HCPSS, typically July 1 following Board action.