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. Although each school in Lawrence has the autonomy to set its own academic program, the entire LPS community shares a common vision of excellent teaching and learning. When implementing a new curriculum, schools engage in a process of evaluating and selecting high quality instructional materials using DESE guidance

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks


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.

Family Guide to State Standards

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


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:

core knowledge logo   Amplify Core Knowledge Language Arts - Built on the Science of Reading, Amplify Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) sequences deep content knowledge with research-based foundational skills. With new digital features and multimedia resources, it’s now more engaging and flexible than ever.


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.

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.


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.


Lawrence Public Library LogoLawrence Public Library - The Lawrence Public library has many print and digital resources as well as classes and events for students and children of all ages to help them continue to learn outside of school. You can apply for a Lawrence Public Library card here


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.


Professional Learning

Inequitable pedagogical practices deny some students opportunities for academic success. High quality professional learning remedies this when educators, with the support of their leaders and colleagues, grow professionally and implement practice that results in improved outcomes for ALL students, especially students that have been historically marginalized.

We envision all adults engaging in strategic, robust, and differentiated professional learning that ensures all students experience optimal learning conditions.  We define high quality PL as the strategic support provided to educators that when implemented results in quality teaching and learning practices for ALL students in classrooms and schools.

We believe professional learning is a moral imperative because it is the catalyst for equitable instruction. If we match adult learning supports to areas of student learning experiences and academic needs, then as a result of improved practices in the Instructional Core, student learning experiences will be  equitable across schools.

The district utilizes a  Professional Learning Planning Tool to ensure that professional learning opportunities are robust, engaging, and aligned to the needs of all students. 


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.


Strategic Literacy Plan

Lawrence Public Schools believes in providing a strong foundation in literacy for all students, grounded in direct and systematic reading instruction at all grade levels. The following are the Core Literacy Beliefs and Instructional Vision for Literacy. For a more detailed description of the  LPS’s Instructional Vision for Literacy, reference the LPS Strategic Literacy Plan

Core Literacy Beliefs

  • Literacy is an essential life skill and is a critical component to enabling lifelong well-being.  
  • An equitable, culturally responsive literacy program enables students full access to academic content and is critical to self efficacy, confidence, and academic achievement. 
  • All students bring linguistic and cultural strengths and assets that have value in our community and for their learning.
  • Literacy enables students to think critically so that they can behave, act, and think with agency and engagement. 
  • Explicit literacy instruction is the role and responsibility of every teacher in Lawrence Public Schools. 
  • We must partner with families to support our student skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  
  • We must support our teachers by providing robust, multi-year professional learning opportunities that support the implementation of the literacy vision 

K12 Vision for Literacy: 

  • Pillar 1 Curriculum All students have access to high quality literacy curricular materials.  
  • Pillar 2 Pedagogy: Educators skillfully use evidence-based practices to promote active reading, writing, speaking, listening and thinking for all students.
  • Pillar 3 Data and Assessment:: Schools use a robust assessment system and regularly analyze data in order to provide targeted instruction for all students.
  • Pillar 4 Intervention:  All students receive targeted multi-tiered instruction and interventions based on individual needs and triangulation of all literacy assessment data. 

Organization Supports

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

These partners include:

  • UnboundEd Learning
  • Achievement Network
  • HILL for Literacy
  • Teaching and Learning Alliance
  • Great Schools Partnership
  • Impact Coaching Partners 

Curriculum & Instruction Contact:

Curriculum and Instruction
Title Name Phone Email

Deputy Superintendent &
Chief Academic Officer

Melissa Spash (978) 722-8641 x25641 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Curriculum & Instruction Emma Belza (978) 722-8641 x25606 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Strategic Initiatives Manager Daritza Francisco   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Early Childhood Expert Educator Cheryl Travers (978) 722-8641 x25642 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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