Surveys of Enacted Curriculum

The Surveys of Enacted Curriculum (SEC) offer a practical, reliable set of data collection tools that support systematic reflection and dialogue around important curricular and school climate questions for teachers of mathematics, English, Language Arts & Reading (ELAR), science, and social studies. The resulting data, immediately available through a secure online reporting system, provides educators empirical evidence-based data to inform curricular decisions at the classroom, building and district levels.

For two decades the SEC has supported powerful conversations among teachers, whether organized by grade level, department, or PLC group. Use of the SEC allows all voices to be represented which supports robust collective conversations about what to continue, change, or stop doing in the classroom.

Areas covered by SEC mini-surveys:

Using the SEC mini-surveys educators and instructional leaders can address multiple goals, whether to obtain reliable indicators of students' opportunities to learn standards-based content, monitor the implementation of standards-based instruction across classrooms and schools, facilitate discussions of effective practice and strategies for improving achievement, or to assess the needs of teachers and schools in order to better target assistance and professional development opportunities.

Much of the SEC survey data are displayed using floating bar charts (like the one below) that enable data-users to quickly determine both the average response as well as the amount of variation reported across teachers for any given response.

Anatomy of a Floating Bar Chart
Floating Bar Chart example
In this example, high school respondents offer the most consistent responses, but as a group report the least amount of time spent on the activity represented by the chart.

The SEC mini-survey on Instructional Content helps educators and leaders address key questions related to instructional content:

  • Is subject area content being taught with sufficient rigor or depth? Are content topics being taught to high levels of cognitive demand, as outlined in standards?
  • Is content being taught that is not clearly related to the learning objectives identified in the state standards?
  • Is the content being covered leaving some learning objectives identified in state content standards unaddressed?

SEC Content Maps, illustrated below, are one type of visual display used to help teachers and others identify areas of alignment and difference between the content of enacted classroom instruction and that of standards.

Sample Data Grades 6-8
CCSS Gr. 6-8
Understanding Content Maps
CCA content maps are analogous to contour or topographical maps in which the North-South axis is represented by the big content domains, the East-West axis is for cognitive demand,
and color is used to denote "elevation," or amount of instructional time. Map intersections that are covered by the darkest shade show which topic(s) got the most emphasis and at which cognitive demand level(s). Content intersections that are in the white areas of the map received little to no attention. The other colors across the continuum represent varying levels of instructional emphasis between none and the maximum.

Based on data gleaned from SEC displays, teachers and other instructional leaders can use their collective knowledge to consider the implications for future instruction. The types of questions that are more fruitfully addressed based on evidence in the SEC might include:

  1. Can we discern connections between current instructional practices and areas of low and high achievement relative to specific content topics?
  2. Are instructional practices consistent with prevailing research on effective practices?
  3. What does the data imply about types of professional development that may benefit us?

Whether SEC data are used by individual teachers or a professional community of teachers engaged in serious conversations about their instruction and collective strategies for increased student learning, the SEC provides multiple focal points for reflection and discussion based on teachers' self-reported experiences and perceptions.