Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum

A Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC)

Current research in the area of curriculum and student achievement tells us that the school-level factor with the greatest impact on student achievement is a GVC (Marzano, 2003). While teachers have great flexibility in how to teach and meet the needs of their students, there must be consistency in what is taught and learned by all students.

A GVC means that districts have identified essential content and skills necessary for all students to learn in specific courses and grade levels.  Viable means that the guaranteed curriculum can be taught in the available time.  To identify the essential content and skills, the following three-part test can be used to determine the significance of any individual standard:

  • Endurance—students will need to retain the skills/knowledge for future use;

  • Leverage—the skill/knowledge is valuable across many disciplines; and

  • Readiness for the next level of learning—skills/knowledge prepares the student for the next grade and/or course.

Since 2010, Arlington Public Schools has been engaged in the work of creating and maintaining a GVC in all subject areas. There have been a variety of activities that teachers and administrators have undertaken in order to keep this work meaningful and relevant, including:

  • Ensuring that the essential content can be addressed in the amount of time available for instruction.

  • Working in subject area teams at each level (elementary, middle and high) to identify and communicate the content considered essential for all students versus that considered supplemental or necessary only for those seeking postsecondary education.

  • Sequencing and organizing the essential content in such a way that students have ample opportunity to learn it.

  • Ensuring that teachers address the essential content.

  • Allowing teachers the flexibility to determine the best way to teach the essential curriculum.

  • Protecting the instructional time that is available.

  • Creating a website for teachers to access with the most recent GVC updates.

  • Developing common assessments that all teachers in a subject and a grade-level use at different times during the year.