Principal’s Guide for
Produced by the Curriculum and Instruction Division
Fulton County Schools
Table of Contents
Letter from the Superintendent 4
Why Standards? 5
Seven Steps for Principals to Follow in Implementing Standards-Based Education 7
Understand the Standards (includes vocabulary) 7
Identify Faculty Leaders 9
Create Professional Development Opportunities 10
Assess Student Progress (performance assessments and rubrics) 12
Analyze Classroom Activity 12
Support Teacher Performance 13
Role of the Classroom Teacher 15
GPS Implementation Plan 17
GPS Action Plan/Timeline 31
GPS Communication Strategies 34
Curriculum Map (ELA, Grade 3) 35
Year-at-a-Glance (ELA, Grade 3) 41
Model Unit (ELA, Grade 3, Unit 1) 42
Unpacked Standards (sample) 44
Steps to Unpack a Standard 45
Unit Calendar (ELA, Grade 3, Unit 1) 46
Checklists to Accompany Unit (ELA, Grade 3, Unit 1) 54
Performance Assessment (ELA, Grade 3, Unit 1) 61
Mathematics Matrix 66
Q and A’s 68 Draft Classroom Walk-Through Observation Checklist 72
Standards Implementation Checklist 73
Standards in Practice 75
Additional Resources for Standards-Based Schools 76
Feedback and Future Plans Form 77
Principal’s Guide for School Implementation - Summer 2005 2
Preparing to implement the first phase of the Georgia Performance Standards has
been a tremendous endeavor that has required countless hours of dedicated effort.
A special thank you is extended to everyone who has had a part in creating the
Implementation Guide to School Implementation and all of the Georgia
Performance Standards documents. Participating personnel includes central office
staff, principals, teachers, and professional assistants.
We also wish to thank those principals/district office personnel who will facilitate
leadership discussions around this document and other resources at the Leadership
Conference on July 28, 2005. Those individuals are: Telana Hicks, Dara Jones,
Tawana Miller, Vicky Ferguson, Kimothy Jarrett, and Ronnie Wade.
The general outline and much of the commentary is taken or modified from Reeves,
D.B. Making Standards Work: How to Implement Standards-Based Assessments in
the Classroom, School, and District. Englewood, CO: Advanced Learning Press, 2004.
Principal’s Guide for School Implementation - Summer 2005 3
Board of Education
GAIL DEAN, PRESIDENT KATIE REEVES, VICE PRESIDENT JULIA C. BERNATH ZENDA J. BOWIE LINDA P. BRYANT LIZ HAUSMAN LINDA SCHULTZ
JAMES WILSON, SUPERINTENDENT
July 18, 2005
Fulton County School System
786 Cleveland Avenue, SW
Atlanta, GA 30315
These are exciting times in the Fulton County School System! We have spent 1-1/2 years preparing for the
implementation of the first phase of the Georgia Performance Standards. We will be implementing standards in
K-12 English Language Arts, 6-7 and 9-12 Science, and Grade 6 Mathematics in the fall of 2005-06.
This document, The Principal’s Guide for School Implementation, attempts to gather in one place the collective wisdom regarding the role of the principal and the classroom teacher in implementing standards-based
education. It also contains the curriculum documents (or samples) that have been designed by the K-12
Curriculum Department, with input from teachers and principals, that will provide the needed framework for the
Standards-based education is a journey! One does not become a standards-based teacher or standards-based
school overnight. It could take as many as seven years for the complete transition to take place. We are
committed to the vision of a standards-based curriculum and will continue to “work on the work,” providing support from the Curriculum and Instruction Division as needed. Use this guide to help you get started at your
school. The Curriculum and Instruction Division welcomes your feedback about other documents or
professional learning activities you need to move your school along this continuum. Thank you for your efforts
in improving education for all our students.
786 Cleveland Avenue, SW ? Atlanta, Georgia 30315-7299 ? 404-768-3600 ? www.fulton.k12.ga.us
Principal’s Guide for School Implementation - Summer 2005 4
First, there was CBE (Competency-Based Education) with the Basic Skills
Tests and then QCC (Quality Core Curriculum) with the CRCT (Criterion-
Referenced Competency Tests) and the GHSGT (Georgia High School
Graduation Test). The EOCT (End-of-Course Tests) for eight subjects were
not far behind. Now, it is GPS (Georgia Performance Standards) and the
realignment of CRCT, GHSGT, and EOCT. Why performance standards
and why now?
(1) The standards movement allows us to adopt the research-based “less is
more” philosophy. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study
(TIMSS) clearly determined that the United States is the only country in the
world with “a mile wide, inch deep” curriculum. Internationally,
performance in mathematics and science clearly indicates that studying
fewer topics in more depth allows for greater retention of learning.
Standards are stated more globally than isolated objectives, resulting in
fewer of them for a given year. It would take 23-1/2 years of education to
master all of the QCC objectives; standards help us get a handle on the
quantity of material to be mastered so that the curriculum is no longer
viewed as a checklist of things “to cover.”
(2) Performance standards focus specially on the concepts that students are
to know and be able to apply by the end of the school year. The focus is
on what the students are learning rather than on what the teacher is
(3) The Georgia Board of Education has adopted a performance standards
curriculum to be phased in over seven years, beginning in 2005-06. The
standards movement is a national movement; Georgia is not the first
state nor will we be the last to move to standards-based education. The
movement is primarily fueled by such studies as TIMSS.
(4) Standards-based education is about meeting or exceeding expectations
in the demonstration of knowledge and skills for all students. To truly
embrace a standards-based education, one must move past the bell shaped
curve and normed references, where students are divided into roughly three
groups: those who have little or no knowledge and skills, those who have
adequate knowledge and skills, and those who have better than average
knowledge and skills. In a standards-based system, all students are expected
to meet or exceed standards, thus, dividing students into two groups: those
having adequate knowledge and skills and those having above average
Principal’s Guide for School Implementation - Summer 2005 5
knowledge and skills. The central question is: “Can they do the job?”
(Reeves, 2004). From the real world, a good example would be to think of a
lawyer passing the bar exam or an intern training to become a surgeon.
Certain criteria must be met to pass the bar exam or to become a licensed
physician. One would never know if the lawyer passed in the top quartile or
the bottom quartile but the fact that he/she has passed the exam speaks to the
fact that this person is qualified and ready to practice law. When students
graduate from the Fulton County School System, we should be able to say,
“They can do the job.” (5) The goal of a standards-based curriculum is to provide a broad menu of
alternatives that meet the needs of students who require additional
instruction, as well as those who have already achieved the standard
and appreciate further enrichment (Reeves, 2004). It is a vehicle for
teachers to apply their knowledge of brain-based research and differentiated
(6) Only those districts truly committed to standards-based instruction,
even in the face of challenges, are going to be able to successfully
implement standards (Reeves, 2004). Standards implementation is
challenging. Change can be uncomfortable. Commentary will come
from all sides --- business leaders, community leaders, parents, board
members, principals, teachers, and the list continues. Even teachers
who support and understand standards and performance-based
assessments in theory may be less than enthusiastic when they discover
that the primary responsibility for the creation and administration of
these assessments rests with the classroom teacher.
All of these factors point to the importance of the principal’s role in the
implementation of standards.
Reeves, D.B. Making Standards Work: How to Implement Standards-Based Assessments in the
Classroom, School, and District. Englewood, CO: Advanced Learning Press, 2004.
Principal’s Guide for School Implementation - Summer 2005 6
Seven Steps for Principals to Follow in Implementing
I. Understand the Standards
According to Doug Reeves (2004), a principal should take the following steps to ensure that
he or she and all staff members understand the standards.
? Take the time to become personally familiar with the Georgia Performance Standards,
particularly those areas currently being implemented.
? Use the standards to communicate with parents and the public about what you are
teaching. Do this in small chunks. For example, in a single page, a document should
include a standard, what it means, how we teach it, how we test it, and an activity that
parents could do to help students master that particular standard.
? Provide every faculty member with a complete set of standards. (Refer faculty to the
Georgia Department of Education website: www.doe.k12.ga.us.)
Every professional in the building should have a working knowledge of all the
standards, not just those for their particular grade level, so that they are teaching “in
? Make sure that every faculty member has access to the Fulton County website that
contains GPS resources.
? Carefully distinguish between claims to standards adoption and the real thing. A
commitment to standards implies that the teacher is creating and using techniques that
allow all students to meet standards, not maintaining the status quo in which only a
few students are expected to do so.
? Familiarize yourself with the vocabulary and the rationale for standards and use the
language in all your conversations about teaching and learning.
Key Vocabulary and Definitions
o Standards - These state the purpose and direction the content is to take, and are generally
followed by elements. Standards define what students are expected to know, understand,
and be able to do.
o Elements – Elements are the parts of the content standard that identify specific learning
goals associated with the standard. State and local assessments will be developed to
measure achievement at the element level.
Principal’s Guide for School Implementation - Summer 2005 7
o Student Work - Examples of these are to be included in the GPS to specify what it takes
to meet the standard and to enable both teachers and students to see what meeting the
standard “looks like.” Some student work has already been posted on the Georgia
Department of Education (GDOE) website; other samples will be posted during the 2005-
06 school year.
o Tasks - Keyed to the standards, tasks provide a sample performance that demonstrates
student learning (what students understand and are able to do) during or by the end of the
course/year. Tasks can serve as activities that will help students achieve the learning
goals of the standard, while others can be used to assess student learning; many serve
both purposes. Although the Georgia Performance Standards will include tasks, teachers
may develop their own.
o Teacher Commentary – Teacher commentary provides students feedback on whether or not the student has met or exceeded standards. It shows students why they did or did not
meet a standard and enables them to take ownership of their own learning.
o Unpacking a Standard – A process that breaks a standard into its fundamental components:
2. big ideas
6. enduring understanding
7. essential questions
8. performance assessments
? Standards - These state the purpose and direction the content is to take, and
are generally followed by elements. Standards define what students are
expected to know, understand, and be able to do.
? Big Ideas - These abstractions provide a “conceptual lens” for organizing
content and connecting important facts, skills, and actions. They are
derived directly from the standard.
? Elements – Elements are the parts of the content standard that identify
specific learning goals associated with the standard. State and local
assessments will be developed to measure achievement at the element level.
? Knowledge and Skills Statements - These are the more specific objectives
that we want students to know and be able to do. They are derived from the
essential questions and from the elements of the standard.
Principal’s Guide for School Implementation - Summer 2005 8
? Enduring Understandings - Stated as full-sentence statements, these specify
what we want students to come to understand about the big ideas.
? Essential Questions - These open-ended provocative questions are designed
to guide student inquiry and focus instruction for “uncovering” the
important ideas of the content.
? Performance Assessment – A student task that demonstrates what the
student knows and is able to do as a result of instruction and learning.
o Rubric – A tool that makes explicit the criteria and levels of performance that can be met
in accomplishing a performance task.
o Curriculum Map – A graphic representation of the standards and elements for a specific
grade level which shows which elements are prerequisite, teacher directed, or on-going
o Pacing Charts – A visual representation of clustered standards and elements with
suggested pacing for the school year.
o Professional Learning Communities – An organizational structure that has these
1. the collegial and facilitative participation of the principal who shares leadership –
and, thus, power and authority – through inviting staff input in decision making
2. a shared vision that is developed from a commitment on the part of staff to
3. collective learning among staff and application of the learning to solutions that
address students’ needs, specifically, time to plan for the implementation of the
Georgia Performance Standards in the classroom
4. the visitation and review of each teacher’s classroom behavior by peers as a
feedback and assistance activity to support individual and community
5. physical conditions and human capacities that support such an operation.
II. Identify Faculty Leaders
? Remember that successful systemic change always occurs from the ground up, not the
? Identify the faculty leaders who have already embraced the change to standards-based
education. Make sure that these individuals as well as those on your leadership team
Principal’s Guide for School Implementation - Summer 2005 9
are all speaking a common language and share the same vision for the direction of the
school and standards-based education.
? Identify those faculty leaders who not only can “talk the talk, but walk the walk”
regarding standards-based education. These individuals are traditionally your CSTs,
middle school subject area contacts and high school department chairs.
? Consider also individuals outside these ranks to help lead the school effort toward
? Plan for the items suggested below to help nurture and support these individuals:
1. Time for collaboration and building professional learning communities
2. Public recognition of ideas and programs
3. Personal notes and letters in personnel file to acknowledge leadership in the
school and show appreciation.
4. Use of Standards Implementation Checklist when making classroom visits to
communicate strengths and growth areas.
Being a leader is often a lonely undertaking and your faculty leaders will look to you
for support and guidance.
III. Create Professional Learning Opportunities
? Commit to the creation of a collaborative learning environment that includes the
entire faculty and smaller communities based on grade level and vertical teams to
ensure that everyone understands their role in helping all students meet standards.
The grade level or subject area professional learning communities are essential in the
planning of units and day-to-day instruction based on the unpacked standards.
Teachers should not and cannot plan for standards-based instruction in isolation.
? Consider Doug Reeves’ (2004) perspective on professional learning for standards-
1. Professional learning opportunities should be part of teacher curriculum, not
the typical “one shot” workshops that we too often put in place. See the
sample teacher curriculum below.
2. Different levels of professional learning should be provided to different
teachers depending on their background and familiarity with standards. By the
end of a two-year cycle, every teacher should have completed the learning
objectives of such a curriculum, but not every teacher will have necessarily
participated in every element of the curriculum.
Principal’s Guide for School Implementation - Summer 2005 10