Curriculum and Instruction Department

The Office of Curriculum and Instruction is responsible for the overall planning, implementation and evaluation of the district’s curriculum and instructional programs. The department ensures that curriculum programs are in compliance with the policies adopted by the Massachusetts Department of Education and the Lawrence Public Schools.

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for English Language and Literacy and for Mathematics

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for Science, Technology, and Engineering


Standards for Mastery

The district adheres to a system that is aligned to standards for instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that is connected to demonstrations of mastery of the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn as they progress through their education. These concise, written descriptions of what students are expected to know and be able to do at a specific stage of their education determine the goals of a lesson or course, and teachers then determine how and what to teach students so they achieve the learning expectations described in the standards.

Lawrence Public Schools relies on Massachusetts learning standards or "frameworks" to determine academic expectations and to define proficiency in a given course, subject area, or grade level. This commitment ensures that students are acquiring the knowledge and skills that are essential to success in school, higher education, careers, and adult life. Students who do not meet expected learning standards receive additional instruction, practice time, and academic support to help them achieve proficiency or meet the learning expectations described in the standards.



Each School is responsible for the review, selection, and implementation of curricular resources that support implementation of the standards. A brief description of some common resources that many of our PK-Grade 8 schools have adopted include:

5 Multicolored people holding hands in circle with "core knowledge" written below   Core Knowledge Language Arts - A comprehensive Preschool-Grade 5 program for teaching skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) also builds students' knowledge and vocabulary in literature, history, geography, and science.


Engage NY logo above Eureka Math logo  Eureka Math/Engage NY - Eureka Math from Great Minds was awarded the grant to develop ENGAGENY math in 2012 and has since become a top-rated and widely used math curriculum nationally. The most up-to-date version of the curriculum is available on the Great Minds website, along with a number of essential support resources suitable for parents and teachers using Engage NY Math or Eureka Math.


Red Apple next to the words "Know Atom"   Know Atom Science - Know Atom provides a full-year STEM curriculum, hands-on materials and professional development that help teachers turn students into problem solvers and schools in laboratories that bring science, technology, engineering and mathematics to life.


ST Math logo above a Penguin above writing "Learn Math Visually"  ST Math - ST Math - Spatial Temporal Math - is a supplemental visual math program that builds a deep conceptual understanding of math through rigorous learning and creative problem solving. The online puzzles provide rich, interactive representations of mathematical topics that align to stat standards. Learning objectives target key grade-level concepts and skills with mathematical reasoning and problem solving.


Imagine Learning Logo   Imagine Learning and Literacy - With Imagine Language & Literacy, every child receives explicit, targeted instruction within an individualized learning path that continually adjusts to their needs. Over 4,100 engaging activities teach critical language and literacy concepts such as basic vocabulary, academic language, grammar, listening comprehension, phonological awareness, phonics, and fluency.


Professional Development

The Lawrence Public School district is committed to supporting each school to offer professional development as specialized training, formal education, or advanced professional learning intended to help administrators, teachers, and other educators improve their professional knowledge, competence, skill, and effectiveness.

High quality professional development is considered to be the primary mechanism that schools use to help teachers continuously learn and improve their skills over time. A focus on professional learning that is sustained, intensive, comprehensive, aligned, builds capacity, is relevant to teacher needs, and is connected to student learning is encouraged and supported.

The Lawrence Public School district partners with several leading organizations to support the advancement of teacher quality and learning. These partners include:

  • UnboundEd Learning
  • National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE)
  • Achievement Network
  • Know Atom
  • Teaching and Learning Alliance
  • Epstein and Sorresso Educational Consulting


Enrichment for Social Emotional Learning

Educators and child development experts agree that the skills students need to be successful in school and in life is not determined solely by cognitive skills. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills, or those most related to character, including grit, optimism and self-awareness, are other important contributors to student success. Social Emotional Learning is defined as the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

The Lawrence Public School district encourages schools to include and emphasis on providing a full complement of enrichment programming to promote SEL skill development. In addition to school based programming in theatre, art, music, athletics, and career awareness, many schools partner with community providers to expand this focus. Partners include: The Lawrence Boys and Girls Club, The YMCA, Merrimack Valley Community School of Music, Living Rhythms Drumming, The Community Group, Groundwork Lawrence, Playworks, and Urban Voices.


Expanded Learning Time (ELT)

The Lawrence Public School district has made a significant investment in TIME as a resource to advance the achievement of learning and assist educators with the hours needed for planning and professional learning. These efforts are non-negotiable and they include the mandate that added a minimum of 200 additional hours of expanded student learning time for most schools serving grades K-8. Many schools have launched a much more aggressive commitment to ELT with a schedule of more than 300 hours above pre-ELT schedules (prior to 2013-14)

Specific to district strategies to support ELT, principals have been assigned authority over decision making and budgets with a directive that anticipates aggressive plans to close not only the achievement gap, but the equally important opportunity gap that exists for so many Lawrence Public School students. Through the design of effective and monitored strategies for ELT and through the increased opportunities for interested schools to provide additional hours of targeted support after school, thousands of students are served for up to 10 hours each day in the Lawrence Public Schools. With an earlier August school opening and increasing opportunities for weekend, school vacation, and summer offerings, schools are working to close gaps during nearly every week of all 12 calendar months.

Information for Teachers

Please visit the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment website for resources and information:

Curriculum & Instruction Contact:

Curriculum and Instruction
Title Name Phone Email
Assistant Superintendent Melissa Spash (978) 722-8641 x25641 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Supervisor of Assessment Kristyn Sullivan (978) 975-5900 x25671 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Why should the Lawrence Public Schools shift to Standards Based Grading and Reporting?

Standards-based grading and reporting are designed to assess student performance against a specific and observable set of grade level skills. Most importantly, a standards-based system measures each student against the identified, concrete standard, instead of measuring how the student performs compared to other students. The type pf reporting instrument keeps teachers, parents, and students themselves focused on the desired outcomes for “year-end” learning goals.

How are Performance Indicators different from letter grades?

The traditional report card usually provides only ONE grade for each subject (reading, math, science, etc.). On a standards-based report card, each subject is divided into a list of content and skills that students are responsible for learning. Performance indicators or “marks” are different from traditional letter grades. Letter grades are most often calculated by combining how well the student met his/her teacher’s expectations, how he/she performed on assignments and tests, and the level of effort as determined by the teacher. Letter grades do not tell parents which content and skills their children have mastered or whether they are working at grade level. Performance indicators reflect student progress on a continuum of standard mastery typically notated as “emerging”, “developing”, “progressing”, and “mastering”.

The standards are grade level benchmarks that specify what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. They are the basis for curriculum, instruction, and assessments. Performance indicators are broad, categorical levels used to report student progress along a continuum of learning from emerging to developing and from progressing to mastering. These levels are used to describe the knowledge, skills, and practices students are able to demonstrate with consistency.

How will this shift support the alignment of curriculum, resources, and instructional practices?

Curriculum has changed, instructional methodology has expanded, and research has extensively informed the teaching and learning process in powerful ways. A common understanding of what is expected of each student, as well as a clear understanding of each student’s progress toward his or her full potential, is essential in communicating accurate and transparent information about a student’s performance.

The recently adopted Massachusetts State Framework for English Language Arts and Math reflect the national Common Core Standards and will be used to select the most appropriate grade specific standards. They will reflect what students need to know, understand, and be able to do by the end of the academic year. Each Lawrence Public School is committed to a strong home-school partnership. Advances in grading and reporting will be important tools for encouraging shared understanding about student growth in both academic areas and prosocial skills.

What is the timeline for this process?

The work to engage additional stakeholders, define grade specific standards for inclusion, draft a proposed report card template, and prepare for messaging and professional development will continue as follows:

  • March-June 2017 Seek feedback and support from all stakeholders (informational meetings, surveys, etc.)
  • August 2017-June 2018 Convene cluster grade-specific content teams to identify, select, and recommend grade-by-grade standards, prosocial skills, and indicators
  • Summer 2018 Schedule student and parent informational meetings
  • Launch 2018-2019 School Year Issue Lawrence Public Schools Standards Based Report Cards; Encourage schools to host additional informational sessions for parents.

For more information please reach out to the Office of Teaching and Learning – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Click here to see document (Spanish)

A Resource Guide for Principals, Teachers, Support Personnel, Paraprofessionals, and Parents

mom reading to her two boys

Learn about Massachusetts learning expectations by exploring the new Family Guides to the Standards, from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Family Guides cover some of the learning standards that every student will master in each grade and how families can help them achieve these learning goals! Guides include standards for English language arts & literacy, math, and science & technology/engineering.

Where can families find the guides? You can download the guides by visiting

Knowatom Logo

Attached please find KnowAtom's latest case study, "Lawrence Public Schools Sees Uptick in Science Performance Among English Learners."

The Data in this report are early evidence of the important work and impact this STEM partnership is having on all students, including English learners. 

Click here for case study in English

Click here for case study in Spanish

Click here for case study in Vietnamese