Standards Based Learning

ACS is a learning-focused school. To prepare students to be effective and contributing citizens, they must have the knowledge, skills, and competencies to face the changing dynamics of the world.  At ACS, we provide students with a standards-based program of study and effective classroom instruction that is grounded in real-life experiences that are developmentally appropriate.  We are committed to delivering a guaranteed and viable standards-based curriculum that is rigorous, relevant, and future-focused. We teach, assess, and report on specific learning standards. This is done to ensure learning is meaningful, thoughtful, and relevant in pursuit of our Mission and Student Profile. 

We draw on the work of leading educational researchers and experts to guide and inform our decisions about curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Among these educational leaders are Dr. Robert Marzano, Larry Ainsworth, Dr. Thomas Guskey, Dr. Douglas Reeves, Richard DuFour, Michael Fullan, Grant Wiggins, and Jay McTighe. 

What are Standards?

Standards are broad statements of what students should know and be able to do. They are written for each grade and state the knowledge and skills to be acquired by the end of that grade or groups of grades. While the ultimate learning goal for students is to attain deep understandings of the issues and content they study, we recognize that understanding itself is difficult to measure and we depend on the measures of knowledge and skills combined with student reflection, transfer of learning, or ultimate performance. At ACS, each grade level and course has identified essential learning expectations from our standards which are emphasized in the curriculum.

What is a Rigorous Curriculum?

Larry Ainsworth describes a rigorous curriculum as a curriculum that “must keep students at the center of its design.  Although such a curriculum is based on a preset list of necessary components, in no way does this imply that rigor should be equated with rigidity.  A rigorous curriculum must remain flexible, adaptable to the diverse and continuously changing learning needs of all the students it serves.”

At ACS, we also agree with Larry Ainsworth when he states that “a rigorous curriculum is an inclusive set of intentionally aligned components - clear learning outcomes with matching assessments, engaging learning experiences, and instructional strategies - organized into sequenced units of study that serve as both the detailed road map and the high-quality delivery system for ensuring that all students achieve the desired end;  the attainment of their designated grade or course-specific standards with a particular content area.”

What is a Guaranteed & Viable Curriculum?

A guaranteed curriculum means that we provide the opportunity and support for all students to learn what we have identified as essential learning.  Viable means we have identified that which is actually able to be achieved with the timeframe of students’ PK-12 journey. To ensure the curriculum is guaranteed and viable, teachers review the standards on a continuous basis and use them to design instruction, including intervention and extension, for students. ACS teachers organize the essential learning into units of study. These units of study outline the enduring understandings, specific content, skills, assessments, and resources used in ACS classrooms. Our standards, units of study, and assessment are organized in Rubicon Atlas.

I visited so many schools all around the city, but the second we walked into ACS the decision was immediately clear. We were greeted with warm smiles and extremely warm hearts; even kids walking through the hallway would open the door for us. Teachers greeted Jenna with open arms. When she came out of her interview she knew she wanted to come to ACS.

-Ranya Haddad, Parent