Essential Standards

What do we want our students to learn?
Some standards have a greater impact beyond the current grade level and are relevant across multiple courses and disciplines. Others seem to deepen understanding and skills only within a certain course or discipline. Essential standards help clarify what our students learn.

  See the California State Standards   See the list of District Texts & Materials

What is Quality First Instruction?

  Elements of Quality First Instruction  

Learning Targets

A student can articulate their learning objective and monitor their progress towards meeting it.

  • Aligns with essential standards
  • Matches rigor and sequence of unit
  • Written in student-friendly language
  • Students can define it in their own words
  • Clearly displayed
  • Referenced throughout the lesson
  • Embeds academic vocabulary
  • Measurable
  • Uses concrete verbs
  • Specific to context of a particular lesson or project
  • Students self-assess and reflect on targets

PLC Question 1: What do we want students to know?



  • Ongoing and used to drive instruction (frequent CFUs) Tied to driving questions of PLC work- What do we want students to know? How will we know students have learned it? How will we respond when they don’t and they do learn it?
  • FAST (frequent, actionable, specific and timely)
  • Assessment strategies that gauge the understanding of ALL students
  • Involve students in assessing their own learning
  • A variety of strategies used to assess (i.e. instant snapshot of class with technology, exit ticket, etc.)
  • A variety of response options (different ways to demonstrate understanding).
  • All DOK levels represented in assessment


  • Culminating assessments used to drive team and site next steps
  • A variety of options
  • Choice in demonstrating learning
  • Use data to measure effectiveness of instructional programs, goals, and achievements

PLC Question 2: How will we know when our students have learned it?


Tailoring instruction of content, process, products, or the learning environment to meet individual needs of students; Providing a variety of supports for a variety of learners that assists each student in reaching the highest level of thinking and learning

  • Teachers design lessons based on essential standards with students’ learning styles, scaffolds and equity in mind
  • Group students strategically by shared interest, topic or ability
  • Manage the classroom to support choice and inquiry
  • Builds independence and removes barriers - modifying assignments to meet students’ current needs
  • Use of academic vocabulary in context
  • Flexible language frames and word banks
  • Thinking tools, modeling, small groups
  • Use of manipulatives, multimedia, visuals, or realia
  • Flexible learning space
  • Can be additional support (intervention) or enrichment
  • Choice in how to demonstrate learning

PLC Questions 3 and 4:

  • What do we do for students who don’t get it yet?
  • What do we do for students who already got it?

Responsive​ ​teaching​ ​to​ ​ALL

(Culturally, Linguistically, And Socially/emotionally)
Culturally responsive (or relevant) teaching:"a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes" (Ladson-Billings, 1994, p. 382).

  • Recognizes/utilize the cultural/ linguistic/ social-emotional capital and tools students bring to the classroom
  • Educators understand their personal triggers and create environments to minimize those effects on student learning opportunities
  • Lesson design encompasses essential standards, learning targets, multiple ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge, multiple entry points into the content based on the “whole-child”
  • Make meaningful connections to the diverse backgrounds of their students while emphasizing a rigorous curriculum and high expectations for achievement
  • Ideal Environment: students feel safe taking educational risks because they have a warm demander educator (high expectations, support, connection) who is aware of students’ challenges (i..e age,, home environment, social climate, etc.)
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching article

Addresses PLC Questions 1, 2, 3 and 4