Investing in Innovation Fund (i3)

Current Section
 Office of Innovation and Improvement Home
Maryland 2010 Development Grant Abstract


Montgomery County Public Schools

PR Award Number:


Project Title:

Project North Star — Montgomery County Public Schools Online Elementary Integrated Curriculum

Project Director:

Erick J. Lang

Amount of Award:


Length of Award:

3 years

Absolute Priority:

AP3: High Standards and High-Quality Assessments

List of Partners (with states for each):

Pearson, LLC

Project Website:


Description of Project:

Through Project North Star, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and Pearson, LLC are partnering to develop a curriculum and online professional learning community designed to nurture the skills and mindset that will guide K-5 children toward the North Star of college readiness. The project aims to raise expectations for students regardless of race/ethnicity or income; broaden instruction to include science, social studies, and the arts while exceeding assessment goals; and save teachers and students valuable instructional time.

Project North Star includes development of a unique college-ready elementary curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Integration of content and processes is key to curriculum design. A Thinking and Academic Success Skills Framework forms the nucleus around which reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, and the arts are planned. Identifying and defining skills in the framework that are directly related to skills required for success in advanced-level courses will increase the likelihood that more students will be college-ready while eliminating disproportionalities in college-ready graduates by race/ethnicity or income. The power of making connections among content areas will help to unleash the natural curiosity of young children, and the habits that mark the academic mind—persistence, questioning, and collaboration—will be developed. Providing students with explicit instruction in critical and creative thinking skills and with opportunities to develop academic success skills while learning content will help students understand how they learn. This, in turn, prepares them for lifetime learning.

Pearson, LLC will help create innovative professional development and the first generation of post-NCLB assessments that measure achievement of challenging academic standards alongside thinking and academic success skills. Aligned curriculum and assessments and just-in-time professional development will be offered in a collaborative Web 2.0 environment. In a social networking environment, teachers will be able to harness the power of instructional experts and their peers to solve complex and commonplace teaching challenges.

When fully scaled up, Project North Star will reach 500,000 students and will be standardized for use across the nation. Because it integrates thinking and academic success skills with all content areas and the arts, enables sharing of teacher-developed lessons and resources, and incorporates the principles of the Universal Design for Learning, the project will be helpful in meeting the needs of all students, especially those with disabilities and English language learners. The project aims to increase the percentages of traditionally underrepresented students performing at advanced levels along the way to college readiness.

Description of Evaluation:

The evaluation has two goals: (a) provide qualitative and quantitative information on how well the project components are implemented, and (b) analyze the extent to which the stated project objectives and outcomes are achieved. The implementation evaluation will employ multiple methods (including interviews, archival research, observations, surveys and/or focus groups) to examine implementation and to identify challenges and unanticipated outcomes. The outcome evaluation will examine various program components (including training and professional development; instructional practices and strategies; student achievement; and differential patterns of achievement among grade levels, student subgroups, and schools to gauge the success of the project.

Project Evaluator:

Denis Newman


RMC Research Corporation

Print this page Printable view Bookmark  and Share
Last Modified: 05/01/2012