Whitefish Bay Classroom
Whitefish Bay Classroom

Curriculum Renewal and Design Process in Whitefish Bay Schools

Through collaborative efforts amongst stakeholder groups, the Whitefish Bay School District designs and renews our PreK to 12th grade curriculum every 6-7 years.  In our quest to be the "exceptional place to learn," we continue to compare our work and results to those of local, regional, national benchmark districts as well as our global, high exceeding nations, though a comprehensive renewal and design process.  We continue to strive to offer the best curriculum resources to support evidenced based instructional practices in all of our classrooms.  The School Board has policies and practices that the district follows to ensure local control of the process. 

Overview of the Process:

All curricular areas will be systematically updated with learning expectations, reformatted as specific learning content and performance standards for students.  The school district has a cycle defined for when this takes place.   

  • Through an established PreK-12 committee, a review of the current evidenced-based research as defined by respected educational researchers, recent and updated standards, State assessment information and  current student achievement data and trends takes place.
  • PreK-12 Committee establishes mission, goals and beliefs for the content area.  These are reviewed and approved by the district's Teaching and Learning Committee (TLC), and at the Board level, usually in the late Fall or Early Winter.  These goals and beliefs guide the committee's work towards reviewing updated curriculum resources.
  • PreK-12 Committee educators participate in curriculum writing to devise unit of study plans and to talior instructional learning targets for our Whitefish Bay students. 
  • PreK-12 Committee reviews updated curriculum resources.  Selection is based off of criteria established by the Director of Teaching and Learning and the committee.  Locally, each district selects any resources or instructional materials through our evaluation cycle.  Recommendations for resources go to the Teaching and Learning Committee (TLC) and then to the Board for approval, usually in the Spring of the school year. 
  • During the following fall, curriculum writing and resources are implemented in our classrooms.  During this time, changes might take place in common assessments and report cards to align to our new curriculum design and resources.
  • Program reconsiderations and adjustments are made throughout the remaining years to ensure curriculum fidelity in implementation.

Common Core State Standards and Whitefish Bay Schools-  Where do they fit in our process?

Information has flooded the popular press lately regarding Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I think it is worth sharing a bit of the background and purpose of CCSS, as well as how our district is integrating CCSS into our program renewal and design process identified above. 




Click to view the video excerpt of how our previous superitendent, Laura Myrah, explained the Common Core during a brief portion of the State of the District presentation on October 8, 2013 and/or continue reading below.



A common discussion that I hear often is that the Common Core State Standards are federally mandated curriculum and represent a federal takeover of decisions that should reside with local officials, such as school boards. Actually,  the CCSS are not a curriculum.  They are a clear set of expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed at each grade level.  Local control definitely remains intact in deciding how the standards are integrated into the curriculum and instructional practices.  Here in Whitefish Bay, our local teachers, administrators, and parents involved in our curriculum renewal and design process decide HOW and IF the CCSS are to be met.  Our teachers continue to devise units of study, lesson plans, instruction and assessments to individualize the needs of our students. 


Recently in our mathematics review, depending on the student level, different decisions were made around the changes.  In elementary and middle school, the Common Core State Standards Math Practices Standards, provide our students with greater depth of thinking, application of knowledge, and more specific detail regarding which standards to teach and assess within each grade level.  We also used the NCTM Math Focal Points to guide our curriculum changes.  In high school, our committee and staff felt like our current student expectations exceeded that of the CCSS and chose to not make many changes at this time.  Detailed information is included on the mathematics specific website.



In our district, we continue to function as we always have in that the state standards (old or new) serve as a guide, an additional piece of information; we fully understand that the best understanding of what works in our Whitefish Bay classrooms comes from our teachers and parents. 


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