Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Welcome to the NPS Curriculum Website

Our Vision of Curriculum

Students should receive the same common educational experience across grade levels and courses as a result of a common and cohesive curriculum.

Curriculum development is an ongoing, collaborative, and dynamic process, bringing our district values to life through teaching and learning.

Collaborative curriculum development provides a vehicle for critical conversations about teacher instruction and learning that leads to increased student achievement.

A comprehensive curriculum is aligned, rigorous, and engages all students.

Engagement with stakeholders (teachers, caregivers, students) is enhanced through transparent communication of our curriculum expectations.

Curriculum work improves student learning and is the backbone of instruction.

Curriculum design and implementation is an essential component of educational professional practice.

Curriculum needs to be aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and AP College Board Standards, as appropriate.

The process of writing, differentiating, reflecting on, and revising curriculum is ongoing and collaborative.

Curriculum should be rigorous, engaging, and developed using the Understand By Design Model (UbD).


We are pleased to share our district curriculum for each grade level and subject area through our curriculum maps. A curriculum map is a tool for organizing expectations for what students should know and be able to do in each subject, each year. While we hope that you will regard these maps as valuable for understanding what our students are learning, they are outlines and do not capture the rich, multi-dimensional curricula we teach daily in our classrooms. To access course curriculum maps, you will need to visit our ATLAS page HERE

NPS curriculum maps contain the following information:

  1. Course Title
  2. Unit Titles
  3. Unit Timeline
  4. Unit Overviews
    • The unit overview is a brief description of the unit that includes:
      • title of the unit
      • grade level(s)
      • unit time allowance
      • focus of the unit–the topics
      • brief description of the most important big ideas
      • key instructional method(s)
      • major student requirement(s)
      • brief description of what students will actually do
      • assumptions of prerequisite student knowledge/experiences
  5. Unit Transfer Goals
    • Transfer goals are those goals developed with college and career in mind. They are what we want students to be able to do independently when they confront new challenges, both in and outside school, beyond the current lessons and the unit. Each unit includes one or more transfer goals. These transfer goals are explicitly taught or taught towards (for our younger students) in this unit. These Transfer Goals are unique to the Northampton Public Schools.
  6. Unit Standards
    • Unit Standards are the learning goals that determine what is explicitly taught and assessed in the unit. These are the standards on which we measure student growth. You can expect to see these standards measured on summative assessments for the specified unit.
    • A summative assessment is the final project or exam that allows students to demonstrate the extent to which they learned the material in the unit. Summative assessments are aligned to the standards and are assessed with a rubric.
    • A rubric is a student and teacher measurement tool used to determine the proficiency level for the unit standards. It includes detailed descriptors that provide specific and direct feedback to students and measures of growth for teachers.
    • All unit assessments are aligned to the standards. In addition to the summative assessments, teachers use formative assessments (activities, observations, quizzes, etc.) in each unit. Formative assessments give students and teachers feedback as they progress through the learning process, in order to determine next steps in the instructional and learning process.
  7. Understandings
    • Understandings are the “big ideas” have enduring value in students’ lives beyond the unit, course, and classroom.
  8. Essential Questions
    • Essential questions are creative question(s) that provoke deep thought, lively discussion, sustained inquiry, and new understandings regarding the big ideas of core content.
  9. Content
    • Content is the key knowledge students will acquire as a result of this unit.
  10. Skills
    • Skills are the key abilities students will acquire as a result of this unit.
  11. Tiered Vocabulary
    • Tiered vocabulary is the key vocabulary essential for mastery of this unit.

Please note:

Our maps are continually evaluated and refined by teachers working collaboratively with department chairs, curriculum teacher teachers (CTLs), coaches, and administrators to ensure that they reflect Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, AP College Board Standards (as appropriate), and the content and skills that students are required to master in each grade level/course. These maps present a living curriculum, one that is dynamic and responsive to the changing needs of students. As educators, we constantly strive to make our curriculum more effective, meaningful, and cohesive. You will find that some of the maps are still in development at this time. Furthermore, we expect to continually update this site, releasing updated maps as they are completed.