Curriculum & Instruction In Support of Equity

The district has established specific goals and is taking steps to ensure that our Curriculum and Instruction are supporting all our students.

  • Ensure our students receive a culturally responsive curriculum in all schools from grades Pre-K to 12 (See Racial Literacy curriculum overview K-5)
  • Build our capacity for curriculum development and instructional practices through the lens of equity and cultural responsiveness

Action Steps
  • Address the racial inequity we are experiencing in our course leveling
  • Implement K-5 Racial Literacy Curriculum and align PreK to 12 anti-racist instructional practices
  • Adopt the framework "Know Yourself, Know Your Students, Know Your Practice, Know Your Curriculum" to establish a common understanding of Culturally Responsive Teaching
  • Develop a "Roadmap for Becoming A Culturally Responsive Educator" that provides teachers and leaders with a framework and a common set of questions and resources to guide our work
  • Continue to facilitate communication between the REAL sub-committee, the K-12 Curriculum Cabinet, and the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to ensure a thoughtful and coordinated approach. Here are 2 examples: Curriculum sub-committee presentation of the updated "Roadmap" document to the K-12 Curriculum Cabinet for review and feedback; Curriculum sub-committee presentation to the SLT for review and feedback.
  • Update the Library/Media selection policy


  • In May 2021, NHS is surveying faculty in order to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of our current leveling system and to solicit ideas on how to improve equity in our level recommendations.
  • Needham Channel reported on the Elementary School Racial Literacy Curriculum, available for view at this link.
  • The 2019-2020 Needham Public Schools K-5 Curriculum summaries included an overview of the Racial Literacy curriculum, and indicated the skills and abilities that the staff will help elementary students develop.
  • The Roadmap document was reviewed and curated by the REAL Curriculum sub-committee; format/layout was adjusted in preparation for sharing a user-friendly version online.

The following implementation steps were established as the plan going forward:

  • The Performance Matters data management system will be explored as a way to support our work.
  • The Lens for Instruction document will guide our focus on the instructional core in order to consider the essential question: To what extent do students carry the cognitive load? In addition, educators will consider a handful of key domains to increase the academic performance of underperforming students and will compile strategies and practices that best bridge the gaps in content-specific literacy.
  • Evaluators will be provided with a list of "Look Fors" to use in providing feedback to educators.
  • Prior to the review/update of the Library/Media selection policy, the librarians from schools across the district will begin a diversity audit of their respective collections during summer 2019. A diversity audit answers the question: "What percentage of my collection is written by someone other than the traditionally dominant voice?" It ensures that the collection contains a variety of representations from a range of authors as well as authors whose works reflect the perspectives of those who are marginalized. This audit will determine the number of titles and the representative percentages of the library collections that fall into specific categories: race/ethnicity, gender, GLBTQAI+, disability, religion and voices. Moreover, it will hold librarians accountable to identify the weaknesses and fill gaps in their collections. It also challenges them to be more inclusive in their future selections and requires them to continually examine their own internal biases and privileges.

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