Monday, July 12, 2010

Scope and Sequence

Scope is defined as “a clearly stated set of K-12 learning objectives that reflects local, state, and national expectations. Sequence is the order in which those objectives are taught.” (Nichols, Shidaker, Johnson, & Singer, 2006) Sequence is often decided by grade level, while scope is more detailed and includes the specific learning objectives which often include benchmarks. For most states, the Scope and Sequence is developed directly from the standards at the state level. “Together a scope and sequence of learning bring order to the delivery of content, supporting the maximizing of student learning and offering sustained opportunities for learning. Without a considered scope and sequence there is the risk of ad hoc content delivery and the missing of significant learning.” (ACT Department of Education and Training, 2009)

In New Jersey some subject areas are left to the individual district to develop a Scope and Sequence chart. For example, in science, New Jersey details that by the end of grade 2, 5 and 8 certain objectives must be met as indicated by each standard. The school districts are then left to determine which grade level will address the objectives for each standard within those groups. This is not the case with math and language arts. The Scope and Sequence of these subject areas is clearly defined for each grade level, K-12.

Each district then takes the Scope and Sequence Chart developed by the State and uses this to develop a sound curriculum. The primary goal in developing the Scope and Sequence chart is balance. It is very important to establish the benchmarks or goals to be taught at each grade level under each standard. Making sure these benchmarks are equally distributed will then provide a sound framework for developing the curriculum for each grade level. The most valuable aspect of the Scope and Sequence Chart is that it avoids teacher repetition. By this, students will not be presented the same material at varying grade levels.

At the district level, determining the Scope and Sequence varies. Involving a strong team is imperative in developing Scope and Sequence as well as curriculum. This strong team should include:
• “Expertise in the content area;
• Representation across grade levels; and
• Representation across buildings or areas of the district. If districts blend talents and develop a shared approach, equal or comparable participation needs to be ensured.” (Nichols, Shidaker, Johnson, & Singer, 2006)

The newly developed team will then follow the following steps in preparing a Scope and Sequence Chart:
• “Collect materials needed for training.
• Train selected team members.
• Create a back loaded scope and sequence based on state standards or frameworks and assessments.
• Add objectives determined by local needs.
• Identify and highlight essential learning to be assessed in district tests and those expected to be tested in other high-stakes assessments.
• Review and edit the draft document.
• Submit the draft of the scope and sequence to stakeholders for review.
• Review and consider all suggestions; make changes as appropriate
• Finalize scope and sequence.
• Present to district administration for approval, then to the school board.” (Nichols, Shidaker, Johnson, & Singer, 2006)

With the Scope and Sequence planned horizontally and vertically, the district may then develop the curriculum. Once the curriculum is developed the individual teacher may determine their pacing charts. The pacing charts divide the curriculum within the grade level taught and then determine how much time will be spent on each particular objective and in what order. Some districts do control the pacing of the curriculum even detailing as to what will be taught on each day of the week. In this case, there is little or no opportunity for the classroom teacher to control the content being taught and the speed at which it is covered.

Scope and Sequence is the map for the curriculum. It should be left to the teacher to navigate this map and provide a sound lesson for each objective. Too much control at the district level will leave little room for creativity and professional growth at the teacher level.

NJ Scope and Sequence Charts

Display 8-2: (North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, 2000)
Sample Scope and Sequence Chart
Down the left side of the chart are the curriculum standards. Across the top are the several grade
levels. In each cell, the benchmarks for that standard and that grade are noted.

Display 8-4: (North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, 2000)
Criteria for Assessing Scope and Sequence Chart
Does the Scope and Sequence Chart....
! Correspond with state frameworks?
! Show an awareness of students’ developmental needs?
! Exhibit effective coordination across a standard, Grades 1-12?
! Show balance, so that one grade is not over-loaded?
! Show reinforcement of mastery skills and knowledge, without excessive repetition?


ACT Department of Education and Training. (2009, September 9). Every Chance to Learn. Retrieved July 2010, from ACT Department of Education and Training:
Nichols, B., Shidaker, S., Johnson, G., & Singer, K. (2006). Managing Curriculum and Assessment. Worthington: Linworth Publishing Inc.
North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. (2000, August 1). HANDBOOK 8: Developing Scope and Sequence Charts and Curriculum Guides. Retrieved July 2010, from North Dakota Department of Public Instruction:

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