Our schools are full of children with amazing potential. We depend on our teachers to deliver creative and rigorous lessons that reach all students. But getting kids excited about learning is hard work and too often we ask teachers to do it all on their own. Research shows that providing teachers with high-quality instructional materials is an effective strategy for increasing student learning. However, teachers need much more than a box of new materials to ensure great teaching and learning take place. They need support from a team of leaders who know how to select, prepare for, and support the use of great materials. This website is a collection of insight, resources, and lessons from other systems that have walked this journey. To see how this project came about and the high-level findings in one place, start here.

Executive Summary

Common Pitfalls

Based on interviews, we found five common pitfalls in the curriculum journey:

  1. “Nobody asked me.”

Leaders are engaged in curriculum adoption, but teachers are left out – leading teachers to feel like the decision is forced on them and their students.

  1. “You are telling me to do different things.”

Teachers are on board and excited, but leaders are not engaged in the process and don’t understand the materials, so they end up undermining the materials by giving feedback in tension with the curriculum’s design, creating mixed signals about what matters most.

  1. “I feel like a robot.”

Teachers are asked to be so strict in their fidelity to the curriculum that they cannot meet students’ needs, students struggle, and ultimately everyone rejects the materials.

  1. “I use it as a resource.”

Without training or a specific plan for how the materials should be used, teachers’ well-intentioned adaptations get out of hand and dilute the materials, so students don’t end up mastering the standards.

  1. “This too shall pass.”

The whole curriculum implementation effort is treated as another exercise in compliance rather than rooted to a meaningful vision for teaching and learning.

How did we find best practices?

We set out to learn from the challenges common across systems and what the systems that did not experience those challenges did differently. Learn all the details about how we did this multi-year action research and field testing in the methodology.


About Instruction Partners

The Curriculum Support Guide was written and designed by Instruction Partners, an education non-profit that works shoulder to shoulder with educators to support great teaching and accelerate student learning. You can learn more about us here.


many thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation