Beginning with the end in mind: World Class Outcomes
The Douglas County School District’s Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC) begins with World Class Outcomes that we want all of our students to reach.
These high-level outcomes are based on the Colorado Academic Standards, which are required items all students must learn. DCSD worked with teachers to increase the rigor, building outcomes that require higher-level thinking, as defined by Bloom’s Taxonomy, a classification of levels of intellectual behavior. Researchers have found that when students utilize the higher levels of thinking, including analyzing, evaluating and creating, they are able to better retain the skills they have learned.
Traditionally, education has focused on the process of memorization and regurgitation of fact, which are lower-levels of thinking, as defined by Benjamin Bloom and his team of educational psychologists.
DCSD’s World Class Outcomes span from preschool to twelfth-grade have been broken out into grade level and subject areas, by the World Class Education department to help guide teachers.
You can read through the entire GVC at https://www.dcsdk12.org/world-class-education/gvcs
Example of World Class Outcomes: 12th Grade English
- Strategically create meaning through complex writing and speaking
- Defend metacognitive process in a quantitative and qualitative method
- Demonstrate the process of inquiry:
- Create expert analysis through the inquiry process
- Craft an argument by evaluating evidence anticipating counter claims
- Justify and defend solutions to socially responsible problems from multiple perspectives
You may notice that outcomes were built to be broad and spanning.
“They are those much bigger, broader transferable skills,” explained DCSD Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Kara Tidemann
“They are intentionally [broad], because there are so many different avenues that students can take. It is possible to change the content and still accomplish the same outcomes,” DCSD Secondary Science Curriculum Coordinator Erik Prouty explained.
This provides teachers an unprecedented amount of freedom in the classroom, allowing them to engage students in content that interests them.
“I no longer felt the constraint of having to master this very pointed set of facts, for instance having to cover every explorer that had ever traveled across the globe or to make sure every child knew all 50 states and their capitals,” Tidemann said. “It was a realization that maybe content wasn’t as important as what they were able to do when I really started being purposeful in helping grow their thinking skills. It really opened up a lot more possibilities for my kids and for myself as a teacher.”
While this provides students the ability to lead their learning, teachers still act as guides, ensuring that they master important skills, standards and content along the way.
“That can be a big shift for teachers. I was use to being the expert in the room. I felt like I needed to have all the answers. We are asking teachers to take off the expert hat and move more to a facilitation of student learning. Jump in there and say, ‘Kids, I don’t know all the answers. Let’s look for the answers together. Let’s be inquirers'. It’s a really powerful shift for kids,” Tidemann said.
Really focusing on the end, from the beginning, also helps teachers to better structure lessons, choosing activities and assessments that accomplish the outcomes.
“If this [World Class Outcome] is my end goal and this is where I want to try to help my kids to get; what does that look like from the very beginning? Suddenly, what I did in my classroom was much more intentional, much more purposeful and much more specific to what my kids needed,” Tidemann said.
The 4Cs: ‘Super skills’ for the 21st Century
Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity are the 4Cs. They are considered by education experts to be the most important attributes or “super skills” that students will need to compete and succeed in the global economy.
Established by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills - a coalition bringing together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers - the 4Cs are also the Douglas County School District Board of Education’s End Statements. End Statements are the goals the Board has established for students to reach over the course of their 13 years in the District.
These four 21st Century Skills were highlighted from a longer list identified in a convergence of research and through discussions with business leaders, because they are critical to every aspect of a person’s life and could be universally integrated into every lesson.
“The 4Cs are naturally integrated into almost any unit a teacher might consider teaching,” DCSD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Dana Johnson-Strother explained.
VIDEO: DCSD students speak about what the 4Cs mean to them
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills briefly describes each of the 4Cs:
Sharing thoughts, questions, ideas, and solutions
Working together to reach a goal — putting talent, expertise, and smarts to work
Looking at problems in a new way, linking learning across subjects & disciplines
Trying new approaches to get things done equals innovation & invention
Learn more about the 4Cs
Watch this short video created by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and FableVision, titled "Above & Beyond." It explores how in an increasingly complex, demanding and competitive 21st century, students need to learn more than the 3R’s they are tested on in school. It’s time to help them go “above & beyond”, by embracing the 4Cs – communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
21st Century Skills: Expertise needed to succeed in the real world
Education researchers and America’s corporate leaders agree: in order for our students to be successful in our changing world, they must master 21st Century skills, not just content.
In the past when the focus of industry was the assembly line, American educators successfully prepared students for their futures through memorization and regurgitation of information. Now companies want more.
“Business leaders tell us that they need people who are critical thinkers, who can truly collaborate with other people, who can work to solve problems together and create and innovate in ways that maybe we haven’t even thought of yet. These are tools that will help support our students for whatever the future may hold,” explained DCSD Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Kara Tidemann.
Inspired by the research and work of Tony Wagner, Yong Zhao, Marc Prensky, Jay McTighe, Grant Wiggins, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, Peter Senge, Carole Miller Lieber, Willard Daggett, Todd Whitaker, Annie E. Casey Foundation, OECD, ATC21s, Mark Tucker, Norm Augustine, Michael Fullan, Ken Kay, Howard Gardner and many others, we built a high-level plan for change – a plan that sets the stage for change based on the convergence of literature and research; a plan that empowers great teachers and leaders to reinvent American education for our students.
For this reason, the Douglas County School District has adopted the following list of 21st Century Skills, which can be incorporated in lessons, depending on their relevance to the topic.
21st Century Skills
- Global Awareness
- Financial Literacy
- Problem Solving
- Civic Responsibility
- System Thinking
Content becomes the vehicle to reach World Class Outcomes
While our focus is on World Class Outcomes, content is still important. It is the vehicle that helps students reach our end goals.
By changing the focus, Douglas County School District is allowing students and teachers more freedom to focus on topics that interest them, increasing student engagement.
This does not mean that reading, writing and math have been forgotten.
“I think there is a fear with this shift that maybe some of those particular knowledge-based skills are being lost. We really want to assure our parents that we are not saying that we are getting rid of learning your math facts or we are getting rid of learning the basics of reading and writing. We’re just not stopping there,” explained DCSD Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Kara Tidemann.
“Absolutely, your kids still need to know those foundational pieces, but we want them to be able to rise above that and go beyond. We want them to be able to apply, critically think about, and transfer their learning to new and unique situations. That is when we know the real understanding and knowledge takes place,” Tidemann added.
The World Class Education department team says students will continue to learn how to multiply, understand decimals and when to use a comma. The difference is that now, this content is being learned on the way to a more important outcome—ensuring that students have skills that will make them successful in life after their PK-12 education.
The Douglas County School District knows that being a highly effective teacher is often connected to the work done before the school day begins.
There are practices that can help ensure that the lessons provided in the classroom are of the highest quality, including our twelve World-Class Targets, which will help determine whether a teacher will receive an additional bonus.
The 12 World Class Targets are:
DCSD transforms traditional instructional planning through the continuous improvement of Backwards Design units and World Class Outcomes.
Inclusion, application and support of 21st century skills in the learning environment. These are the skills, understandings and expertise students must master to succeed in work and life; it is a blend of content knowledge, specific skills, expertise and literacies.
- Global Awareness
- Creativity- Trying new approaches to get things done equals innovation and invention.
- Financial Literacy Ethics
- Communication- Sharing thoughts, questions, ideas and solutions
- Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking- Looking at problem in a new way, linking learning across subjects and disciplines.
- Civic Responsibility
- Systems Thinking
- Collaboration- Working together to reach a goal – putting talent, expertise and smarts to work.
- Social Responsibility
- Become self-aware by directly teaching and practicing self-advocacy skills
- Student driven learning explores career/professional pathways
- Advocate with educatoinal support team for all students to feel safe and supported academically, socially, and emotionally
- Maximize opportunities to explore and achieve their full potential
a) includes multiple criteria that clearly aligns to expected outcomes
b) emulates meaningful real-world context
c) is cognitively complex
d) requires student-structured demonstration of knowledge and skill
e) produces direct evidence of the degree of student mastery
Douglas County Employees interested in pursuing World Class Targets, follow this link to the general information page.
Some of Douglas County School District’s most amazing teachers are being honored for the daily effort and skill they put in to creating a World-Class education for their students.
100 teachers help to build World-Class Targets