DCPS is considered a national leader in curriculum design and professional learning. In school year 2015-16, DCPS launched the Cornerstones initiative in order to provide rigorous, joyful, and engaging curricula for students across the city. Made possible by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, this work built on DCPS' previous investment in its people by providing clear examples of high-quality content and the tools and resources to implement the curriculum. In doing so, DCPS laid a strong foundation to dramatically change the way it trains its teachers and became a model of innovative teaching and learning for school districts across the country. 

If teachers are not involved in the creation of curriculum it will not be as relatable, rigorous, or exciting for our students. Teachers know their students best and it is important to use their expertise.
— Kathryn Alwon Brenner, Instructional Coach and Cornerstones Developer

The Core and More: Cornerstones Sharing

Cornerstone Assignments are high-quality, Common Core-aligned academic tasks taught as part of the DCPS curriculum—the lessons students will remember years from now. Building upon the initial success of Cornerstones, DCPS launched a Cornerstone Sharing initiative designed to codify and circulate DCPS’ strategy through a network of districts that will embark on their own Cornerstone journey.

DCPS, in partnership with LearnZillion Inc., formed a network of 18 school districts and one charter network, representing 981,000 students, that are committed to creating and implementing a change management strategy that draws from the DCPS Cornerstones model. DCPS will extend the reach of Cornerstones and make all Cornerstone Assignments available online thanks to support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. By sharing both the Cornerstone Assignments and its strategy, DCPS hopes to positively influence and support other school districts that seek a similar curriculum development approach.

The impact of Cornerstone Assignments cannot be overstated. Educators in every grade and subject-area, from across DC, have powerful lessons that challenge their students and push their instruction.  Leaders from Providence, Rhode Island to Oakland, California are developing Cornerstone models and, therefore, extending equitable access to high-quality classroom experiences to students far beyond Washington, DC.