Aligning Tutoring Curriculum to School Curriculum

In this National Student Support Accelerator webinar, we will be discussing the ways in which your program’s tutoring curriculum can and should align with students' in-school curriculum. This alignment can be crucial to ensuring that students’ tutoring instruction prepares them for their in-classroom work, and that this instruction allows them to improve the skills they will use during their normal instruction times.

Throughout this video, we will walk through what your curriculum should be based on, what curricular alignment is and why to implement it, and how to build the relationships, gain the instructional materials, and implement the alignment processes necessary to coordinate your curriculum with schools’ curriculum successfully.

When creating your tutoring program’s curriculum, it is important to consider the potential ways to approach curriculum alignment. For some programs, curriculum may respond directly to what students are learning in class, others’ curriculum may simply provide extension materials, and other programs may design a new curriculum entirely that complements students’ in-school curriculum. No matter how aligned your curriculum is to the schools’, however, all tutoring programs should have a standards-aligned, rigorous, and grade-level appropriate curriculum to use.

Curricular alignment can help to accelerate student learning and improve students’ skill and content retention. It can also help to take the guesswork out of planning for tutors, and maximize the value that students get out of tutoring sessions. Curricular alignment is especially important if you are not serving all students in your given population, as you should be supporting what students do in school. This can come in the form of either a problem-driven target (helping students who are struggling to meet grade-level benchmarks) or a curriculum-driven target (helping students who have fallen behind in school). The following information can be used to help your program understand where it fits into the schools you are serving, and how to design curricula that work well with in-school focuses.

First, it can be important to build relationships with your students’ teachers, school administrators, and families – keeping in mind that these types of engagement can be more or less appropriate depending on your program’s type and scope. Fostering these relationships can come in the form of reaching out to the school to get access to classroom information and/ or get in contact with students’ teachers, asking parents about curricula, textbooks, and materials, if you are a summer or virtual program, aligning your curriculum with the districts’ as a default, and providing stakeholders with a rationale as to why your program needs classroom information to ensure a successful tutoring outcome.

Second, your program should also consider what instructional materials it will need to create your curriculum and align your curriculum with that of schools. These materials can include scope and sequence materials (which includes a detailed timeline of the topics and skills covered in one school year), unit plans (an explanation of the content covered within a single unit), lesson plans (an explanation of how a teacher will instruct on a particular learning concept or goal), and textbooks (which can sometimes serve as the entire curriculum for a classroom). Having access to these materials can help your program to understand what daily and yearly learning experiences may be like for your students, and can help your program to understand where its instruction may fit into students’ current progress.

Lastly, when actually aligning your program’s curriculum, look first at how students’ classroom curriculum is structured. Consider the foundational skills that students will need in order to be successful in this curriculum, what are the most important standards that students are learning in class, what skills students may need prior to engaging with new content, and what skills or concepts students will be learning right now. Additionally, you should create supplemental materials by getting material feedback from teachers to ensure an appropriate rigor, as well as pinpointing likely misconceptions that students may hold about the content covered. Your program should also pull out specific academic language that is used in students’ classrooms by prioritizing terminology around conceptual understanding and academic behaviors.

Thank you for watching this National Student Support Accelerator Video on curricular alignment. Be sure to check out the Accelerator website at the link below to find the complete collection of Accelerator tutoring tools, including those utilized in this video. Thank you!