Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment/Grading

Norfolk Public Schools strives to be a highly reliable school district. A reliable school district has a safe, supportive and collaborative culture amongst teachers and students. A reliable district offers effective teaching in every classroom and works to provide a guaranteed and viable curriculum where students are measured on what they know and are able to do.  The NPS curriculum, instruction and assessment/grading system is developed to promote a growth mindset and adhere to the principles of a highly reliable school. A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence can be developed. Students with a growth mindset understand they can get smarter through hard work, the use of effective strategies, and help from others when needed. 

Three Ways Parents Can Instill a Growth Mindset (3 min)

Dr. Carol Dweck Research on Teaching Growth Mindset (15 min)

NPS curriculum is developed through the collaborative work of Professional Learning Community (PLC) teams to create specific learning targets and assessments that accurately measure student achievement against the Nebraska College and Career Ready Standards. Target-based instruction promotes a learning environment where students take ownership and monitor their own learning while teachers are able to provide feedback and adjust instruction when necessary. Target-based grading communicates specific information about what a student actually knows and is able to do. 

Target-based grading was adopted as a District Strategic Action Planning Goal in 2018. The recording of target-based grades began in 2019-2020 in select courses. Courses and grade levels will gradually evolve to target-based reporting as curriculum development is completed with supporting assessments and proficiency scales. 

“The professional learning community model flows from the assumption that the core mission of formal education is not simply to ensure that students are taught, but to ensure that they learn.” -Dr. Richard DuFour  

NPS Curriculum Development Framework 

NPS is committed to a guaranteed and viable curriculum. A guarantee that priority standards are taught and assessed as well as viable or able to be accomplished in the timeframe set forth in the school year. NPS updates curriculum in phases and cycles that reflect the phases and timelines set forth by the Nebraska Department of Education. 

As outlined in the framework below, the curriculum process follows logical steps to determine academic priorities, establish a scope and sequence of instruction, design units of instruction with aligned assessments. This sets the foundation of  Target-based teaching and learning. With appropriate core curriculum in place, teachers can  monitor student learning, provide feedback and apply interventions of support where needed as well as enhancement where more advanced instruction can occur. 

Assessment: The primary purpose of NPS’s  Assessment System is to improve the academic achievement of each student in the district by organizing an assessment system that is aligned to state standards, district curriculum and district goals. The assessment system is to provide accurate and timely information to students, parents and teachers for the purpose of improving student achievement and evaluating the district’s overall performance. The focus on improving learning provides the basis for a student-centered accountability system. Assessment, instruction, and learning are viewed as continuous and collaborative processes involving students, parents, and school personnel.

NPS Assessment System includes:  

  • FORMATIVE - Educator-created tests. Formative assessments are administered classroom and district-wide assessments, grading more defined in Policy 6204 and Administrative Rule-6204
  • INTERIM - Adaptive, grade-level independent MAP Growth (K-8 g), MAP Fluency (K-4 g), and PreACT (9-10 g) helps educators know what students are ready to learn next and measures growth over time. Results also indicate a students academic performance against others of their same age.
  • SUMMATIVE - Adaptive, on-grade-level assessments measure academic proficiency relative to Nebraska’s academic standards. Summative assessments are the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) (3-8g) and the Senior High is measured with the Spring ACT (11g). These assessments do not provide growth information but rather achievement at that point in time. These assessments are used for reporting district accountability to the Nebraska Department of Education.