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Instruction

Make learning relevant, differentiated, and appropriate to each student.

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Instruction is more likely to be effective when teachers can draw from a broad repertoire of instructional strategies to address students’ multiple learning styles; when they make careful decisions about how to allocate time and resources to engage students in meaningful activities; and when they continually assess student progress and make appropriate instructional adjustments based on the assessment results. The instructional behaviors exhibited by skilled teachers have been linked to positive outcomes for students.

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Tools

These tools are provided as resources to support implementation of the Quality Schooling Framework (QSF). These tools are not a requirement for schools and districts to use.

Promising Practices

Research

  • The PROMISE Initiative: Pursuing Regional Opportunities for Mentoring, Innovation, and Success for English Learners (EL)External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    This research carried out in five southern California counties identified a core of research-based guiding principles, programs, strategies and approaches for EL success. PROMISE defined and piloted a reform model focused on building the capacity of schools and districts to implement powerful EL programs that resulted in English proficiency, mastery of academic content and development of 21st century competencies.
  • Creating Instructional Program CoherenceExternal link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    This article reviews research on the benefits of building instructional program coherence based on a common instructional framework guiding curriculum, teaching, assessment, and learning climate. Indicators of what instructional program coherence looks like are described. Suggestions for principals on building instructional coherence are cited from research literature.  

Excerpted from California Department of Education's (CDE’s) External Linking Policy: The CDE is providing these external links only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any external link does not imply endorsement by the CDE or any association with the sites' operators.

Definition

“Skillful instruction is an imperative to bring curriculum to life for young learners, and flexible instruction is necessary to make curriculum work for academically diverse student populations.” (1)

Instruction is the process of teaching and engaging students with content. (2) While curriculum is the organized content and plan for engaging students with specific knowledge and skills, instruction is how a teacher organizes time and activities in implementing that content and plan. Instruction and curriculum also rely on a high-quality system of assessment so that, in the course of instruction, teachers have insight into student learning and can adjust instruction accordingly. Effective assessment also ensures that stakeholders in the school community are aware of how students have benefited from instruction—or how instruction might be modified.

Most researchers and practitioners suggest that high-quality instruction meets each student where he or she is in learning the curriculum, so that instructional activities build on students’ prior knowledge and are relevant and differentiated. This instructional approach means that teachers will design and apply different methods to help students access critical content. (3)

Importance

A growing body of evidence indicates that the effectiveness of teachers’ instructional practice has an enormous impact on whether and how students learn and thrive. (1) Studies have shown that differences in student performance across classrooms are attributable to teachers and to instruction that is aligned to current content. (2)

Explicit instruction strategies engage students in the learning process, stretching their knowledge and skills in the curriculum. (3) Instructional strategies such as effective use of targeted direct instruction, scaffolding and modeling, monitoring student learning, and two-way feedback among students and teachers are associated with improved student achievement. (4) And recent research on teaching students’ metacognition—that is, to “think about their thinking”—has revealed improvement in student study skills and self-questioning. (5)

The quality of the instruction teachers deliver has a striking impact on student achievement. When instruction is differentiated to accommodate students’ learning styles, backgrounds, perspectives, and cultural identities, teachers often see dramatic improvements, particularly for students who are working below grade level academically. (6)

Characteristics

Several instruction-related teacher behaviors and actions are linked to positive outcomes for students. (1) Research indicates that instruction is most successful when teachers:

  • Possess an in-depth understanding of the content and the standards they are expected to teach.
  • Continually strive to increase their knowledge of content, monitor student progress, and use the results of assessment to guide instruction, structure opportunities for students to apply learning, and maintain high but realistic goals reflective of student content standards. (2)
  • Apply research-based instructional strategies appropriate to the instructional goals, content standards, and students’ needs—including effective scaffolding—to enable all students to experience, rather than avoid, the complexity of the text or content required by the current content standards. (3)
  • Provide opportunities for acceleration and enrichment for all students, including those with specific diagnosed instructional needs. (4)

Teachers with access to technology may use it to monitor student learning, provide timely feedback, and engage students in interactive activities. Technology can further aid in customizing scaffolds, learning tasks, and a variety of assessments. (5)

To ensure quality education for all students, the needs of special subgroups of learners must be addressed. For example by implementing systematic language development, English learners can “develop the requisite academic literacy skills needed for success in mainstream classes, for meeting content standards, and for passing standardized assessments in their second language.” (6) For English learners, the California English Language Development (CA ELD) Standards describe the key knowledge, skills, and abilities in core areas of systematic language development that students need in order to access, engage with, and achieve in grade level academic content areas. Varying instructional techniques support English learners in accessing English language arts, mathematics, science, and history/social studies curriculum at the same time that they are progressing through the ELD continuum. For in-depth technical assistance, see the ELD Standards Implementation Plan (PDF; 1MB).

Students with special needs also require a teacher’s expertise in using sound assessment tools to gain information about student learning that can be used to deliver high-quality, evidence-based, individualized instruction and support services aligned with the California Common Core State Standards. (7)

School leaders also contribute to instruction and student learning. Principals improve student learning by creating a climate of participation, motivating teachers, encouraging a professional community, and ensuring that collaboration occurs regularly around instructional issues. (8)

Standards and Frameworks

 

Questions: Quality Schooling Framework | QSF@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0836 
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, December 15, 2021
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