Academics » Curriculum


The Center for Advanced Learning’s curriculum is based on the California content standards specifying what students must master each academic year. The curriculum is aligned with the academic performance and content standards of the California State Board of Education and supplemented by proven research-based curriculum models. Where appropriate and practical, the curriculum is project-based. These elements ensure that the Center offers a highly focused curriculum for all students coupled with a creative, stimulating, learning environment.

Our curriculum gives children the opportunity to become natural learners. We believe that growth is developmental and the Center is prepared to assist students at different developmental levels socially and emotionally. We understand that children learn best when they are engaged in activities and studies of interest to them. In addition to meeting California state-mandated curriculum standards, the Center for Advanced Learning provides students with the opportunity to learn a second language, experience other cultures, and understand the challenges that they face in a global society.

The school encourages students to use problem-solving and critical-thinking skills not only in the classroom but in social engagements as well. The school fosters a learning community in which students experience respect for their sustained efforts as well as their immediate successes.

The curriculum is developmentally appropriate as it is based on a developmental model that holds that children have identifiable stages of development and their education must be appropriate to the specific stages of development. The school has specific standards-based curriculum for each grade level. The curriculum outcome standard of the school is that all students function at or above grade level in areas of reading, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

The core curriculum consists of reading/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. In addition students participate in physical education, visual-performing arts, technology, and foreign language courses.

The curriculum is designed to allow each child the opportunity to communicate and to develop an interest in culturally diverse literature and other reading materials. Emphasis is on acquiring basic skills using sequential learning standards. Through the utilization of cooperative and flexible learning strategies, participation in small group activities promotes positive social development, responsibility, and academic interaction.

Innovative teaching plans provide activities to build visual, auditory, and kinesthetic skills for students who learn best through seeing, hearing and movement. These activities employ one or more modalities to build sound-symbol association skills and provide lively and engaging ways to capitalize on children’s individual intellectual strengths and learning styles.

The Visual and Performing Arts learning standards form a bridge for students at the Center to achieve excellence. The arts program supports and extends learning experiences for students in basic literacy and advance skills in Language Arts, Math, Science, and History-Social Science. The arts program engages students in meaningful activities and lesson sessions involving analytical and creative thinking and helps them practice discipline and team work to deliver student-produced products. The Center recognizes the arts program as an essential learning dimension to excellent teaching and learning.

Our academic program has been designed around Baldrige systems and the curricula we have selected lends itself to our data-driven approach. Both the Open Court and Saxon Math programs, for example, include assessment tools that will enable our grade level teams to develop weekly or bi-weekly assessments that our students can use, in their Student Assessment Binders, to track their learning progress.

Open Court (Learn More)

The Center for Advanced Learning’s reading and language arts program uses Open Court, a research-based curriculum grounded in systematic, explicit instruction of phonemic awareness, phonics and word knowledge, comprehension skills and strategies, inquiry skills and strategies, and writing and language arts skills and strategies.

Reading fine literature is one of the founding principles of Open Court Reading, and the program literature selections exemplify how different forms of literature can all express a particular theme. Through various genres, children progressively deepen their understanding of the thematic learning units presented in each grade level.

Open Court develops phonemic awareness, the alphabetic principle, and the understanding of how print works. As the program progresses, it explicitly teaches sound-spelling correspondence to support decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) with the goal being children reading literature independently by the middle of first grade.

Beginning in Kindergarten, Open Court focuses on increasing children’s phonemic awareness. Beginning with phonological awareness, children listen for environmental sounds, manipulate words, compare word length, clap syllables, and work with rhymes. 

Gradually, children begin to work with individual sounds, phonemes, as they learn to blend sounds to make words and segment words into their component phonemes through a clearly defined instructional sequence. At the same time, children are also developing their understanding of the alphabetic principle that sounds can be mapped onto letters as children connect sound and letters and blend them to read words.

Children using Open Court are systematically and explicitly introduced to sounds and spellings. This includes teaching letter shapes, sounds, and spellings with sufficient opportunities for students to practice and apply their phonics knowledge. Adams (1990) notes, however, that teaching sounds and spellings is not enough. Children need specific instruction on how to blend. Blending instruction in Open Court is explicit and has been recognized as instructionally sound and effective.

Saxon Math (Learn More)

The Saxon Math curriculum forms the core of the Center’s mathematics program. For more than 20 years both classroom results and scientific research have shown Saxon Math to be effective. Saxon’s approach to teaching mathematics is supported by solid foundational research in cognitive science and it has been found to be consistently effective for children of varying ability levels and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The Saxon Math series was developed by first breaking down complex concepts into related increments because smaller pieces of information are easier to teach and easier to learn. The instruction, practice, and assessment of those increments were systematically distributed across each grade level. Then the daily lessons were extensively field-tested to ensure their grade-level appropriateness and effectiveness.

At the core of the Saxon series is the premise that students learn best if:

  1. Instruction is incremental and distributed across the level.
  2. Practice is continual and distributed across the level.
  3. Assessment is cumulative and distributed across the level.

The Saxon approach differs from most programs in that, instead of massing instruction, practice, and assessments, Saxon Math distributes them throughout the lessons and school year. Most math programs use a massed approach, whereby instruction, practice, and assessment of a skill or concept occur within a short period of time and are usually clustered within a single chapter or unit. In Saxon Math, as students regularly encounter new increments of instruction, they are also continually reviewing and being frequently assessed over previously introduced math concepts. This approach ensures that students truly integrate and retain math concepts rather than forget them.