Key Action I.2

Establish the vision

What is the goal?

The goal of this key action is to prepare the Selection Team and Review Committee to understand the standards and develop a shared vision of effective instruction for each relevant subject for all students.

Why this key action is important

Interviews with early implementers were clear and conclusive: to make a difference in student learning, materials selection and implementation has to start and end with a vision of great instruction for students. From the start, everyone involved needs to center on that aspiration. Otherwise, this process will become an exercise in compliance. Early implementers that launched into rubric development without first developing a common understanding of the expectations for students and vision of instruction saw competing visions pulling in different directions during selection and/or implementation. This is the key action that differentiated selection success among early implementers.

Explanation of language

We use the term expectations for students interchangeably with standards. The use of standards within this guide is in reference to both the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (TPGs). These terms refer to the stated expectations for student performance. We also reference sample test items from the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR).

We use the terms content area and subject interchangeably to refer to the discipline of focus (math, ELA, etc.). We use the term vision of instructional excellence to describe a statement of the essential elements of effective instruction for that content area, informed by content-specific pedagogical practices. We use the term walkthrough tool to describe an observation guide that can be used on an informal, regular basis to reflect on the content fundamentals in the vision. We use the phrase core beliefs to describe the foundational principles about student learning that will guide and support selection and implementation.


guiding questions

notes & resources

  • 1.
    What are our desired outcomes for this training?
  • 2.
    What are the key activities we want to prioritize?
  • Educators bring a variety of experiences and perspectives to this work. Establishing a common foundation and viewpoint of the subject area prior to selection gives everyone a common starting point.
  • This training should feel like school – doing problems and tasks together as a group. This should not be about “breaking down the standards,” but rather seeing what the standards look like in action.
  • Go to the resource Content-Specific Training Guidance to see key elements of standards training, key content pedagogy for each subject, and presentations and materials.
  • 3.
    Who will lead this training?
  • 4.
    If we are doing it in-house, how many facilitators do we need?
  • Whoever facilitates this training needs to know the standards and content discipline deeply, and also be effective at designing and facilitating adult learning.
  • Generally, your options are:
    – Leverage someone in your district.
    – Find someone in a neighboring district.
    – Ask for help from the state or regional Education Service Centers.
    – Find an independent consultant or professional learning provider that can come to you.
    – Send your team to a conference.
  • 5.
    How much time do we need?
  • 6.
    Where and when will it take place?
  • 7.
    What materials will we need?
  • 8.
    What do participants need to do in advance?
  • 9.
    What feedback do we want to get from participants?
  • 1.
    What is our vision of instructional excellence for this subject?
  • 2.
    What would we want to see in instruction in every lesson?
  • 3.
    What would we want to see in instruction in every unit?
  • A vision for instruction can be made into reality by developing an Instructional Framework. The Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) Strong Foundations Planning resources on instructional frameworks provide information, rubrics, and examples of frameworks created by Texas districts. Your team can approach the development of an instructional framework by reflecting on current instructional practices, articulating a vision for instruction, and then refining it further.
  • Some early implementers took the Selection Team and Review Committee to observe classrooms or watch videos of a lesson to look for evidence of the vision and standards in action. These experiences often revealed differences of opinion that helped refine a vision and instructional framework and highlighted key needs for the materials.
  • 4.
    What are the core beliefs and research base that will be the foundation for our work and drive our vision?
  • 5.
    How do we anticipate that these core beliefs will be challenged? How will we handle it if/when they are?
  • Changing materials often accompanies a fundamental shift in expectations for students. Naming your agreements within the instructional framework (e.g., that all students are capable of high-level work) can create a touchstone you can return to throughout the process.
  • The resource Core Beliefs gives you a starting point. Articulating and challenging beliefs around learning expectations and content-specific instructional practices is an essential part of developing an Instructional Framework. A reflection on Research Based Instructional Strategies (RBIS) is beneficial during this step—reference Math and Literacy RBIS in RBIS at a Glance.
  • For early implementers, discussion around core beliefs was the first place that questions about whether students would be able to do the work came up. See the resource Key Messages for Maintaining High Expectations for Students for research and talking points that you can use in these conversations, as well as actions teachers and leaders can take to support the vision and beliefs for instruction.


This workbook is designed to help a school or system leadership team work through the implementation process together. Assemble your team, print or download the workbook, find your starting point, and dig in together.

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