The American International School of Costa Rica is a non-profit school founded in 1970 that provides US and Costa Rican High School Diplomas. Their students and staff comprise over 20 different nationalities and this diverse international community ensures that the multicultural experience at AIS is not only learned in class but lived at school every day.
- Curriculum Mapping
- Virtual Coaching & PD
- Priority Standards Flagging
Curriculum mapping tool & support
AIS of Costa Rica has been working with Atlas for over ten years to map and house their curriculum. Before beginning their work with Atlas, Curriculum Coordinator Nicola Burrows says, “We were a school ‘aligned’ to California State Standards and using books as our curriculum.” She and the rest of the school understood that excellent curricular resources, including textbooks and rigorous standards, are key components of a comprehensive curriculum, but that there are other elements that make up a curriculum that they needed to capture. Since then, AIS has worked with Atlas in three primary areas: to streamline their curriculum planning, work on tightening their scope and sequence, and set goals.
The team at AIS has worked with Atlas over the years to understand the context of AIS’s curriculum journey and to establish an ongoing curriculum and planning processes. This collaboration takes place through one-on-one support and planning with their Atlas Account Manager as well as by applying the Professional Development opportunities offered by Atlas to support teachers and curriculum writers.
Since she started at AIS, just before the adoption of Atlas as a curriculum management tool, Nicola reflects on four key benefits of their work with Atlas:
A clear scope and sequence
Every course mapped in Atlas can be viewed and modified from a variety of perspectives: as a list of units, a visual academic calendar, or a detailed table of every component of every unit of the course. Courses and their components can also be viewed side-by-side, providing a visual representation of the scope and sequence of classes and a progression through multiple courses.
Flagging priority standards
AIS uses a feature in Atlas called Standard Status Management, which allows curriculum writers and teachers to flag individual standards as “Priority.” This feature allows schools to create up to five flags to categorize standards at the unit level. This feature also opens up new opportunities with the reporting features of Atlas to facilitate conversations and make curricular decisions about standards-based assessment data.
Reports that show taught and assessed standards
Atlas boasts many robust reporting capabilities to help schools organize information in their curriculum that can support curriculum development and guide curricular discussions and decisions. AIS has found particular value in the reports that Atlas provides about the alignment of standards from their targeting within a unit to their targeting in assessments. Schools can use the Standards Overview and Standards Analysis reports within Atlas to identify when and where standards have been targeted (and marked as priority, or any other flag, if using Standards Status Management), as well as when and where they are assessed.
Being able to identify gaps in curriculum
Through the reports and Atlas as well as the tools available within the course maps, unit planners, and lesson planners, teachers and curriculum writers can easily identify gaps across a vertical sequence. Whether it is unit to unit within a single course, or from course to course across a school, there are several ways to track that standards and concepts are being covered across a student’s academic career without gaps or redundancies.
Recommendations for other schools
In reflecting on what she would recommend to other schools considering next steps to their curriculum mapping, Nicola shares, “Be clear as a school how you would use such a platform (hopefully aligned to a strategic plan, mission/vision) and take time to explore options that are available to know if it will meet your needs.” Atlas can streamline the curriculum mapping process, but also offer strong support for establishing these goals and processes through professional development, but also virtual and regional in-person events devoted to supporting leaders begin and continue this strategic planning.