Mandated Lesson Plans – USE Only State Assessments AS Curriculum

Teachers Are Instructed Across Arkansas


Following is a note I received in an email that contained the following memos.  Only excerpts are included because of length. These memos are


"I thought you might enjoy seeing what they’re forcing the (school district name) ______ teachers to do for lesson plans. They have been told that all their lesson plans have to revolve around the released items of the state tests.  They can no longer use any of their own lesson plans of the past.  According to (teacher) ____, some teachers are already freaking out and having to stay late just to fill out these cumbersome plans.   Again, thank God I was allowed to retire. (Name of sender)   ______"


Lesson Planning Guidance

SP specialists should work with building and district personnel to develop a lesson planning template that includes, at a minimum, the content on the following template.


The Daily Lesson Plan template that follows can be used as an actual template for teachers or as a guide for the components that a thorough plan should include.


There are several key items related to lesson plans that are nonnegotiable. These include:

·        Lesson plans must be created DAILY

·        All assessments [tests], formative and summative, must be ATTACHED to the daily plan. This is research-based “back loading”.

·        For teachers who teach multiple classes of the same subject area, plans from class period to class period should vary. No two groups of students are so similar as to warrant no changes from group to group.

·        Lesson plans should be created by teacher groups as a part of common planning time, either a grade level group or a content group, in order to benefit from the skill and knowledge of each member of the group.


Lesson Plan Development

Step 1: Identify the state content and assessment objective that will be your primary teaching focus (others may be secondary focuses for review, maintenance, fluency, or integration).


Step 2:

Review the state sample or released sample test item(s) that measures the objective.


Step 3:

Evaluate that sample to determine what students need to know and be able to do to answer that item correctly – evaluate its level of difficulty. Determine that process of instruction that must occur in order to ensure that students will be able to demonstrate mastery of this skill on the state test.


**The level of difficulty of all teacher-made or teacher-selected assessments should mirror the format and complexity of state sample or released test items.


Daily Lesson Plan Template

Teacher’s Name:                                                           Content Area:                             Date:              


Objectives and Standards: Write objectives in student-friendly terms, document by number, and post in your classroom.


Assessment: To be created prior to planning lesson strategies; ATTACH (includes sample test items and any necessary rubrics)

I only have room to include the first two phases of the Rubric. (Emphasis and underlining was already in this Rubric


Lesson Plan Rubric


Indicators ò

Levels of

Performance ð

4: Best Practice


3: Fundamental Practice

2: Minimal Practice

1: Insufficient Practice

Objectives and Standards

·       Curriculum Objectives are the focus of All lessons and are written out completely.

·       All Objectives and Standards listed correlate to the Curriculum Objectives and are written out completely.

·       Curriculum Objectives are the focus of lessons.

·       Objectives and Standards listed correlate to the Curriculum Objectives.

·       Curriculum Objectives are the focus of lessons.

·       Objectives and Standards may not correlate or be stated.

·       No objectives or standards are stated.


·       Assessment is attached.

·       All assessments follow strict standards and contain sample test items in state testing format and level of difficulty (including both state tested content areas and feeder subjects/grades).

·       Assessment is attached.

·       Most assessments follow strict standards and contain at least two sample test items in state testing format and level of difficulty.

·       Assessment is attached.

·       Some assessments follow standards and may contain sample test items in state testing format and level of difficulty.

·       No assessment is attached.


·       No standard format is followed nor are sample test items included.



Following are excerpts from the Superintendent of a very large school district (Name removed) after teachers were told they had to do these lesson plans and that all lesson plans would be based on released items of the state tests.


Principals;  2/3/2009 11:16 AM

Could you please forward the attachment regarding the JBHM project?  I hope this will answer many questions from your faculty.  Thanks,  _________(name of Superintendent)


Why are the principal and consultant in my classroom observing?

For principals to become stronger instructional leaders, they must be in classrooms and supporting good instruction.  You will see both the JBHM staff and your principal observing in your classroom.  These observations provide a springboard for discussions between the principal and the consultant on ways to improve instruction and student learning.  [In other words there is no way of getting around teaching only the state curriculum with the principal and JBHM staff constantly overseeing your class.]


What about the struggling learner portion of this project?

….The Struggling Learner consultant will provide guidance and insight directly related to dealing with students in those sub-groups.  They will be working with our coaches and specialist to analyze data.  These consultants will also be in your classrooms observing lessons, levels of student engagement, etc.  [Even more oversight of teachers just to be sure they are doing what they are supposed to do.]


What is expected of me?

…JBHM has made some recommendations and requests to your principals, but not anything new or something that isn’t known sound instructional practice.    I know they have mentioned bell ringers, listing SLE and objectives for each lesson, use of released items or similar problems and closure at the end of each lessons. 


What about lesson plans?

Many years ago a brief outline with little information was sufficient.   With added accountability requirements and a more focused instructional approach, more detailed lesson plans are a must.  We realize change does not occur overnight and you may need guidance and support as you provide more detailed plans.  …But, the fact remains; it is difficult for your principal to determine if you are “carrying out” a strong instructional plan if he does not have enough detail to know the plan.  [No way out for the good experienced teacher to continue to teach instead of becoming a robot teaching test items]


Personal comment by the Superintendent)  "Though I know you have seen many programs come and go, this is not a program, but a philosophy.  This is just another step toward improving curriculum and supporting strong and focused instruction