OS has continued to focus resources on the nationwide movement toward developing curriculum standards. Representatives of Fairfax County and Montgomery County school systems have briefed OS on the status of curriculum standards in Virginia and Maryland, the two states where the majority of Foreign Service families returning to the United States live. Continuing contacts with these officials and other national authorities are assisting OS and Foreign Service families in understanding the benefits of the standards initiative, the associated testing requirements for returning students and the need to address any inequities they may face when they enroll in U.S. schools. Additional efforts to help Department-assisted overseas schools implement a standards-based curriculum include projects and teacher workshops.
Project AERO, American Education Reaches Out, is a collaborative project of NESA, supported by grants from the Overseas Schools Advisory Council (OSAC) and OS. The project provides academic standards for use as a curriculum foundation that schools can use to develop their own K-12 curricula which are grounded in these standards and to train teachers to use the AERO standards as the basis for assessing student progress and their own instruction. Additional information can be found at www.projectaero.org. Project AERO standards and benchmarks are complimentary to the common core standards in Mathematics and Language Arts, released in June 2010.
The following Project AERO CDs provide resources for overseas schools:
Ø AERO Standards, funded by OSAC, provides standards in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. These standards are the result of coll-aboration between 12 overseas schools and the U.S.-based Council for Basic Education.
Ø AERO Standards + is the second phase of the AERO Standards, adding three subjects essential to a strong basic education: music, visual arts and world languages.
Ø AERO SAW: Evidence 2 Excellence, also funded by OSAC, provides teachers with student performance assessment tools and materials on assessing student progress towards key concepts in the AERO standards.
Ø AERO Social Studies Standards: An International Approach is a supplement to the AERO Standards CD. Funded by OS, it provides social studies standards and bench-marks, plus a design template, suggested content topics organized by eras and world region and planning guidance for effective unit design.
Ø AERO Mathematics Curriculum Framework with K-8 Standards and Performance Indicators, developed by Project AERO faculty, reviewed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and vetted by school teams, reflects the most current research and provides a tool for system-wide improvement in math curriculum, instruction and assessment.
Ø AERO Science Curriculum Framework with K-8 Standards and Performance Indicators, developed by a team of trans-regional teachers and administrators to assist schools understand and implement the expanded AERO Science Standards.
Ø New for 2011 will be AERO English Language Arts Curriculum Framework with K-8 Standards and Performance Indicators.
Teachers and curriculum coordinators participated in the AERO:SBC workshops held at the Potomac School, McLean, Virginia, in June 2010. Five institutes were offered:
Ø The Academic Leaders Institute focused on strategies to best meet the needs of school staff, on standards-based curriculum, instruction and assessment and on school-wide mapping and planning.
Ø The AERO Mathematics Framework and Evidence to Excellence Institute focused on two areas that research has shown are critical to student learning in mathematics: content and instruction using the recently developed AERO Mathematics curriculum.
Ø The AERO Science Framework and Evidence to Excellence Institute focused on two of the three areas that research shows are important to improving student learning: science content and inquiry, based on the recently released AERO Science Curriculum Framework.
Ø English Language Arts Curriculum Design Institute brought together teams of teachers and curriculum coordinators to collaborate in Standards-based curriculum design with a focus on backward design in the development of instructional material.
Ø World Languages Curriculum Design Institute brought together academic leaders in schools that are planning to adopt or are in the process of adopting standards-based curriculum using the standards developed by Project AERO.
Ø Using Map and Other Data to Inform Decisions and Improve Learning focused on helping teachers gain experience in using MAP, additional data sources and instructional strategies to improve student learning.
In June 2011, six workshops will be offered at the Potomac School. Topics will include Academic Leaders (curriculum coordinators and administrators) and AERO: Standards-based Curriculum in English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science and World Languages.