Traverse City Area Public Schools aligns curriculum and assessment with the Michigan Department of Education ‘Common Core K-12 Standards’ (CCK-12) and the ‘Common Core College and Career Readiness Standards’ (CCR) for both mathematics and literacy (English language arts, 6-12 history/social studies, science, and tech subjects). Courses are reviewed, assessments developed, and student materials and resources are purchased to comply with the new Common Core Standards and graduation requirements.
Traverse City Area Public Schools is committed to preparing every student with the knowledge and strategies needed for a lifetime of successful learning and responsible global citizenship through its rigorous and relevant K-12 curriculum.
Common Core Standards
In June 2010, the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as the new standards for K-12 mathematics and English language arts. These standards improved upon Michigan’s current standards (the Grade Level Content Expectations and the High School Content Expectations) by establishing clear and consistent goals for learning, and allow Michigan to work collaboratively with other states to provide curricular support to schools and educators. Common Core K-12 Standards (CCK-12) provide a progression of knowledge and skill to meet the College and Career Readiness Standards. (excerpt from www.michigan.gov/mde)
English Language Arts
The elementary language arts curriculum follows a balanced literacy approach with time spent on several components of reading and writing. These include: reading aloud, shared reading, close reading, guided reading, independent reading, writing ‘mini-lessons,’ writing and conferencing, and sharing. Reading standards provide grade level benchmarks on attitude, meaning construction, independent reading, book knowledge, word study and fluency. Writing standards are interrelated and address attitude, writing process, traits and genre.
At the secondary level, the TCAPS curriculum prepares students for success in post-graduate education and the workplace with an English language arts curriculum that is in complete alignment with the Michigan Merit Curriculum. Coursework engages students with broad reading and writing experiences that encompass literary, nonfiction literary and other informational texts. Added emphasis is placed on informational text comprehension and workplace reading/writing skills.
The mathematics program in TCAPS is focused on students developing both conceptual and procedural understandings of mathematics and applying their understanding to solve authentic problems. The curriculum offered is aligned with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
In grades K-5, the published curriculum is “Math Expressions.” The early grades emphasize understanding the base-ten place value system, number and operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Students explore a variety of problem types in order to build the flexibility and independence necessary to negotiate the more complex mathematical situations they will encounter in middle and high school. During math lessons, students engage in “Math Talk,” discussing solutions and strategies with peers in order to explain and justify their thinking. Elementary classrooms also utilize student leaders and a helping community in order to build autonomy and confidence. These structures enable students to learn mathematics with understanding, fluency, and confidence.
In grades 6-8 the published curriculum is “Connected Mathematics 3 (CMP3) “ This program builds on the “Math Expressions” curriculum, moving into more formal work by developing mathematical knowledge, understanding, and skill along with an awareness of the connections among mathematical strands. Students move from work with ratios and proportional relationships, early expressions and equations in 6th grade to continuing to work with ratios and proportional relationships, arithmetic of rational numbers, and linear relationship in 7th to algebra and functions in the 8th grade. Each year students also work in geometry, data and probability. There are Academically Talented class options at each grade level as well. Students also have opportunities for earning high school credit as middle school students.
In grades 9-12 offer choices for either “Contemporary Mathematics in Context” or a more traditional program, published by McDougal Littell and Houghton Mifflin. Both curricula are aligned to Michigan’s high school content expectations and state and national assessments. There are a variety of accelerated classes available to both curricula as well. In addition, students may take Advanced Placement classes in statistics and calculus to achieve college credit while still in high school.
The State has changed the requirements in mathematics beginning with the Fall 2007 freshman class, the graduating class of 2011. All students are required to have four years of high school mathematics.
The district participates in ongoing professional development for its mathematics staff. Much of the professional development is done through released time with trained presenters. Some work is done through outside conferences and summer workshops.
Student success is monitored closely. Curriculum-linked assessments are given at all grade levels. The NWEA MAP Growth assessment is given to students three times each year. State assessments are given in grades 3 through 8 and 11th. The EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT tests are given to all students in 8th, 10th and 11th grade. Advanced Placement tests are given at the end of the Advanced Placement statistics and calculus courses, usually in 11th or 12th grade.
TCAPS’ elementary science uses an inquiry-based science curriculum. There are activities and/or experiments for life science, physical science and earth science in all grades, kindergarten through fifth grade.
TCAPS Elementary Science Essential Questions:
- How do we use inquiry and technology to support understanding?
- How do we understand and communicate scientifically?
- How does change occur over time?
- How does energy flow through systems?
TCAPS' secondary science department has aligned its curriculum in order to meet the graduation requirements set forth by the State of Michigan. These requirements dictate that each student must take a minimum of three science credits throughout their high school career. These three science credits would include credit in biology, and a credit in chemistry or physics. From a variety of elective, including Forensic Science, Nutrition Science, Anatomy and Physiology, AP Biology and AP Chemistry.
TCAPS’ science classes are focused so that students will not only have sufficient knowledge of the content, but also have the background that they need in order to demonstrate proficiency on the state-mandated M-STEP assessment. TCAPS’ secondary science department is committed to quality instruction and comprehensive curriculum that will ensure learning success for all students. That comprehensive curriculum is centered around the Michigan Department of Education adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which specifies three distinct and equally important dimensions to learning science - Crosscutting Concepts, Science and Engineering Practices, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. These dimensions are combined to form each standard—or performance expectation—and each dimension works with the other two to help students build a cohesive understanding of science over time.
More Information: Michigan K-12 Science Standards
Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences to prepare young people to become responsible citizens.
The purpose of social studies is to develop social understanding and civic efficacy (the readiness and willingness to assume citizenship responsibilities and to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a democratic society.)
The social studies curriculum builds four capacities in young people: disciplinary knowledge, thinking skills, commitment to democratic values, and citizen participation.
The Traverse City Area Public Schools social studies curriculum is based on and conforms to all expectations set forth in the Michigan Curriculum Framework Content Standards and Benchmarks.
Beyond the Core
Learning Beyond the Core Videos
Beyond the Core
Excellence in Practice
Comprehensive Music Education Overview
Comprehensive K-12 Music - Parent, Staff, Community Perspective
Comprehensive Music - Student Voice
Theatre, Journalism & Visual Fine Arts Overview
Theatre & Visual Arts - Envision, Create, Empower
Career & Technical Education Overview
Career & Technical Education - Student Perspective
Physical Education Overview
STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
K-12 STEM Opportunities
Beyond the Core Finale - I Want To Do It All
Business / Technology Education
Business/Technology Education programs concentrate on career and technical areas encompassing preparation for life skills, pre-career fundamentals and further education. These programs also integrate employability skills with work-oriented tasks.
Business/Technology Education provides:
- preparation for life skills related to business at all levels of education
- pre-career skills through a variety of settings
- business occupational preparation for learners entering the workforce
- courses/outcomes meeting high school graduation requirements
- courses/outcomes recognized as appropriate for college prep and tech prep learners
- technology literacy preparation
- leadership experiences through activities such as DECA club
Lifelong Skills Developed:
- Capable information technology users and producers
- Information seekers, analyzers and evaluators
- Problem solvers and decision makers
- Creative and effective users of productivity tools
- Responsible, informed and contributing citizens
- Knowledgeable and appreciative of business ethics
- Aware of the importance of interpersonal skills in diverse societies
- Aware of a broad understanding of skills and knowledge that can transfer between and among industries
- Realistic in their understanding of work
- Productive citizens in a global society
Business/Technology Students Are:
- Technology users
- Quality producers
- Self-directed learners
- Collaborative contributors
- Effective communicators
High School Courses Offered:
- Architectural Drawing
- Business Law
- Business Technology
- Computer Aided Drafting
- Engineering and Technology
- Engineering Problem Solving
- Interior Design
- Principles of Technology
- Video Production
- Work Experience
- Web Design
Middle School Courses Offered:
- Business and the Internet
- Computer Applications
- Technology Design
- Technology Education
- Web Publishing
Library Media Services
The mission of the TCAPS Library program is to provide diverse resources, instruction and programs to ensure that staff and students are effective and adaptive users of information, safe and smart in their learning environments, and eager and willing readers.
Central High School and West Senior High School are staffed with one teacher librarian and library media paraprofessional (LMP) support staff. East Middle School and West Middle School are staffed part-time by one teacher librarian and library media paraprofessional support staff. Traverse City High School and the eleven elementary schools are staffed by a library media paraprofessional. Elementary library staff hours are based on student enrollment. One teacher librarian coordinates programming in the elementary buildings.
Highlights of the Library Program
- Welcoming and inclusive library spaces and resource
- Collections designed to support curriculum at all levels, including print, electronic and primary sources
- Flexible schedules to allow student access throughout the day at the secondary sites
- Makerspace kits added to elementary collections in 2015
- Best practice research instruction with teacher collaboration
- Online catalog access for all patrons
- Extensive e-Book collections on Overdrive at the secondary sites
- Group and individual reading motivation and guidance
- Well-maintained, highly organized libraries
TCAPS and TADL Launch Library Card Program
Every student to receive access to the library system’s resources
(Posted April 28, 2020, at 2:06 PM)
TCAPS is pleased to announce a partnership with the Traverse Area District Library (TADL) to launch a program that will provide library card access to each of the district’s nearly 10,000 students.
“We are pleased to be able to team up with our local library system to provide additional opportunities for our students to learn, read and grow,” said Jim Pavelka, interim superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools. “Libraries help unlock the imaginations of young learners and lifelong learners alike. We are excited for our students and families to gain access to the library’s wealth of resources through this partnership, from online research databases to foreign language lessons to bedtime storybooks.”
“Developing a relationship with your local library in childhood is key to becoming a lifelong reader and learner. Plus the library isn't just books anymore,” said Michele P. Howard, director of the Traverse Area District Library. “We have research databases, games, musical instruments, 3D printers and more to support TCAPS students' academic success. With aligned missions, TADL is delighted to be providing resources to TCAPS students and their families.”
The goal of the program is to increase the number of students with library card access and to reduce barriers to accessing reading materials and learning resources. Under the partnership, the Traverse Area District Library will automatically provide a library card to every TCAPS student from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
In order to facilitate and formalize the collaboration, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was developed between the partner organizations. Since the time the MOU was originally drafted, the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily closed both schools and libraries. Therefore, the program’s rollout has been modified to a virtual format and will offer access to the library’s online catalogue, including online books, research databases, videos, and more. In addition, families will receive the benefit of receiving a one-time removal of late fines and fees for student card holders.
Parents will receive information via email regarding how to access their child’s virtual library card and how to begin to explore TADL’s online resources and catalogue.
To learn more about TADL’s resources, visit: www.tadl.org.
TCAPS Music Program
Traverse City has a long tradition of excellence in public music education. TCAPS’ orchestra, band, choral and general music programs provide quality, rewarding musical experiences for all students in our community. In addition to a talented teaching staff, we are fortunate to have committed students, a very supportive community and a music booster organization that supports all levels of music in our schools.
The Music Department Philosophy
The arts, the universal expression of our common humanity, are essential to living a full life. Music education provides unique experiences, which cultivate the learner’s emotional and intellectual well being, develop music literacy and bring about working toward a common goal.
The Music Department Belief Statements
We believe that…
- the arts keep us human in an increasingly technological world.
- all people are innately musical; therefore schools have an obligation to help each student develop his or her potential.
- music is an expression of society, therefore it helps us understand and appreciate our own and other cultures.
- music is a discipline with its own intrinsic value. By its very nature, it is an embodiment of many other disciplines.
- music education addresses all learning styles and develops higher order thinking skills.
- a balanced music education program must include opportunities in general music, choral music, band and orchestra.
Music Curriculum & Courses
Michigan Curriculum Standards
TCAPS Scope and Sequence
Preschool through Grade 5
Focus in on developing the 7 strands:
- Playing Instruments
- Understanding and applying music literacy
- Listening with appreciation
- Relating music to history, culture and other disciplines
Students participate in courses organized by grade. Focused studies build skills and appreciation for each child’s area of musical interest.
Students participate in ability based ensembles. The skills that have been nurtured and developed at the middle school level are now propelled forward within a program that has a rich tradition of excellence. Students can reach their full potential both individually and in an ensemble member.
Why We Learn Music
From A Student’s Point of View
- Music is science. It is exact and specific. It demands exact acoustics. A conductor’s full score is a chart, a graph that indicates frequencies, intensities, volume changes, melody, and harmony all at once and with precise control of time.
- Music is mathematical. It is rhythmically based on the subdivision of time into fractions, which must be done instantaneously, not worked out on paper, and often in multiple combinations simultaneously.
- Music is a foreign language. Most of the terms are in Italian, German, or French; and the notation is certainly not in English, but a highly developed kind of shorthand that uses symbols to represent ideas. The semantics of music is the most complete and universal language. It speaks to the soul.
- Music is history. It usually reflects the environment and times of its creation, and often even the country and/or racial feelings. It keeps a peoples’ culture alive. It reflects the styles of each historical period, even as do the visual arts.
- Music develops insight and demands research. Patterns are analyzed, similarities and differences identified, and style and period characteristics observed.
- Music is technical. It moves into new technologies as easily as we move into a new house adapting to new electronic possibilities.
- Music is physical education. It requires fantastic coordination of fingers, hands, arms, feet, lips, cheeks, and facial muscles in addition to extraordinary control of the diaphragmatic, back, stomach, and chest muscles, which respond instantly to the sound the ear hears, the symbols the eye sees, and the mind interprets.
- Music is art. It allows a human being to take all of these techniques to express emotion, build character, develop concentration, and establish self-esteem.
- This is why we learn music. Music will give us more love, more compassion, more gentleness…In short more LIFE!
A young person’s perspective of Why We Learn Music,
adapted from Why We Teach Music by Kathryn B. Hull
Music Audience Etiquette
There is no substitute for the experience of a live performance. The interaction between the audience and performers – whether in music, dance or drama – can be very moving. In fact, the audience is basic to the live concert experience. A supportive audience can actually help a soloist or group exceed its usual level of performance. Likewise, an inconsiderate or uninvolved audience may significantly lower the quality of a performance by distracting the performers.
Basic etiquette for students and audience members to consider when attending a live performance:
- When attending a concert whether in a concert hall, little theater, cafeteria or gymnasium, those attending the concert must mentally prepare for being still, quiet and listening to the live performance. In today’s culture, we very seldom have to sit and do just one thing at a time.
- When moving into position on the risers or sitting in chairs, try to avoid climbing over others, be courteous. Be respectful of teachers or other adults who are trying to help the performers get into place by listening and not talking.
- Performers should not have gum or candy in their mouth or in their pockets. You can’t perform with that in your mouth and chewing/eating while others are performing is distracting.
- Performers should not have cell phones or other technical devices with them in the concert. All devices in the audience should be turned off so as to not disrupt the performance with unplanned sounds.
- Everyone should save conversations and comments until there is an obvious break in the performance. Even whispers can be disruptive.
- It is OK to be responsive in appropriate ways. Applause at the end of selections is always appreciated; whistles, shouts, and calling names of performers is not.
- If there is a speaker or narrator involved in the performance, give that person your undivided attention. Speakers in live performances are usually there to make explanations that will help you understand or appreciate the performance.
- Even if you are disappointed in a performance, be considerate of the performers and assume that others have a right to their own opinions. None of us have the right to spoil a performance for someone else by being distracting or unkind.
- An emergency is the only reason to leave during a performance. Stay seated and quiet for the duration of the performance. Wait for dismissal instruction, and then leave in a quiet and orderly manner.
Elementary Audience Program Awareness
The seven strands of the TCAPS music curriculum are studied during the preparation for elementary music programs.
- Playing instruments
- Understanding and applying music literacy
- Relating music to history, culture and other disciplines
For your listening pleasure, please keep your non-performing children with you during the entire performance and please refrain from talking, even between pieces.
- Strand 6.5 states: Demonstrate appropriate concert audience behavior.
- Strand 7.5 states: Begin to develop the cooperation and interdependence that are essential to a meaningful music experience.
The students are working diligently to complete transitions silently. The audience can help them by silently listening and watching the transitions. We urge you to watch your child(ren) throughout the program. This is what you should see:
- Singing: eyes on the director, good posture
- Playing: preparing instrument (before and after), keeping steady beat, keep “one eye” on the director
- Moving: quickly and silently getting into position, knowing the steps, moving within the beat, good posture
- SILENT TRANSITIONS: student knows where to go, which song comes next. If remaining on riser, wait patiently for the next cue from the director
Traverse City Music Boosters
Traverse City Music Boosters, Inc. is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed more than 50 years ago to support Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) music education. Membership is open to all parents and community members. We support all music education at TCAPS, from the youngest pre-kindergarten learners through the most advanced high school students. If you have a child in a TCAPS music program, You are a music booster!
Visit the official Traverse City Music Boosters website for more information on events, scholarships, mini-grants and more.
Traverse City Area Public Schools is proud to provide a quality physical education program taught by certified professionals. The K-5 elementary curriculum incorporates thirty-five objectives in the areas of locomotor skills, object control skills, fitness, cognitive concepts, and personal/social skills. Each objective is broken down further into grade-appropriate benchmarks. These benchmarks help us assess the expected levels of achievement as identified by the Michigan Exemplary Physical Education Curriculum. The elementary curriculum is based on a program that provides kindergarten through 2nd grade students three, thirty-minute sessions and 3rd through 5th grade students two, thirty-minute sessions per week.
The physical education staff believes a strong partnership between home and school is a critical part of your child’s learning. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Exercise and recreation…are as necessary as reading: I will rather say more necessary, because health is worth more than learning.” Although it has been 200 plus years since Jefferson voiced these astute words, they still ring true. Being well informed allows you to better support your child’s learning and continued growth.
Learn to Move ~ Move to Live
Physical education contributes to the physical, intellectual, social and emotional well-being of the student. Our curriculum is devoted to purposeful instruction in progressive activities to promote a positive self-concept through fitness, sport, dance and lifetime recreational pursuits. Participation and involvement are required at all levels. Health-related fitness is the goal for all students. The curriculum intent is to provide students of all abilities and interests with a variety of movement experiences that will lead to an active and healthy life. Activities are taught in a coeducational environment.
TCAPS middle schools and high schools require all students to take physical education. In sixth grade, physical education classes are taken every other day throughout the school year. Seventh and eighth grade students are required to take one semester of physical education. All middle school students may take additional physical education courses through their elective options. Students in grades 9-12 must earn 1 credit (two semesters). High school students may also take additional physical education courses through their elective options. All health education is included in the secondary physical education curriculum and will be taught during physical education courses.
“Physical education is the only subject, which by the very nature of its content has the potential to affect how a person will feel every moment of every day for the rest of his or her life.” – Allen Russell
TCAPS’ students will benefit from physical fitness by increasing self-confidence, building strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance, coordination, posture, and balance.
The Big Ideas in Art
- Art is a personal and passionate response to circumstances.
- Through art we express and communicate creatively.
- Through art we gain appreciation and connections to other cultures.
- Art takes commitment and organization, which leads to personal growth.
The Traverse City Area Public Schools Art Department provides an art curriculum for all students in grades 1-12. The elementary curriculum is experienced in weekly forty-five minute lessons taught by a certified art instructor, focusing on art production techniques connected with art appreciation and art history. Students explore ideas about themselves, their world, and other cultures through work in various art processes such as painting, collage, drawing, sculpture, and ceramics. References to art of the past and present teach how others have explored these ideas and media. Art history is a major component of the elementary art curriculum. The lessons are designed to allow the individual student to solve visual problems using her or his own unique vision.
At the middle school level, TCAPS offers a sixth grade elective, “Art Unleashed,” in which students explore all foundation areas in 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art. Seventh and eighth grade students may elect from a variety of media. Advanced level courses are available with instructor approval. View this video highlighting middle school art classes.
High school classes are designed to offer a level of advancement into all students’ concentrated fields of art study. Students have a multitude of courses to choose from including an Advanced Placement course in Studio Art for students who wish to participate in college-level courses and have the potential to earn college credit.
Middle school and high school students have the opportunity to study Anishinaabemowin, Chinese, French, German or Spanish. Certain other languages may also be available through online resources. Middle school students may earn high school world language credit if they meet TCAPS’ requirements. High school students may choose to continue their second-language skills throughout their high school career since TCAPS offers Advanced Placement courses in French, German and Spanish. Students also have the opportunity to enroll in world language courses at Northwestern Michigan College once they have exhausted the opportunities offered at the high schools. At the secondary level we also offer global study opportunities to our students, with teacher-led trips and exchange programs to France, Germany, Mexico, and Spain.
Elementary, Middle School, and High School
Assessment is a fundamental part of the learning cycle. The primary purpose of assessment is not to measure, but to further learning. Students are more likely to reach their full potential in an environment where there are frequent loops of assessment and informed instruction.
District Literacy Assessments
Running Records: Running Records assessments are administered to all kindergarten through 2nd grade students. Students not meeting the district standard will continue performing Running Records assessment. Running Records provide an assessment of text reading and are designed to be taken as a child reads orally from any text. The assessor is able to find an accuracy rate (number of words read correctly) as well as a comprehension score and a fluency rate as measured in “words correct per minute.” A deeper analysis of a Running Record also informs the assessor as to the strategies a reader is and is not using when interacting with text. This analysis provides valuable information for matching the reader to appropriate text.
Degrees of Reading Power (DRP): DRP are administered beginning in 5th grade, once a student has met or exceeded the Running Record standard. This standardized test that equates with national norms is given to all students 5th through 7th grade using forms with a progression of difficulty. Students take this test independently and answer numerous multiple-choice questions. The standard form of DRP assesses the ability to comprehend the surface meaning of increasingly more difficult textual material, while the advanced form assesses the ability to reason with – that is, analyze, evaluate, and extend the ideas that are presented with increasingly more difficult textual material. DRP assessments provide valuable information for matching the reader to appropriate text.
Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI): Scholastic Reading Inventory is a way to assess student reading levels and monitor reading progress. SRI identifies struggling readers in grades 4th – 12th. The SRI assists teachers in planning for instruction, and gauges the effectiveness of TCAPS’ curriculum. Currently, all students are administered the SRI assessment in the spring of 6th grade, prior to 7th grade enrollment. Identified students are enrolled in the READ 180 program the following fall and continue in the program until grade level reading scores are attained. In addition, all secondary schools and most of TCAPS’ elementary schools have READ 180 programs available to any student struggling with reading.
Michigan’s Alternative Assessment Program (MI-Access): The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that all students with disabilities be assessed at the state level. In response to this legislation, the Michigan State Board of Education approved the Michigan Educational Assessment System (MEAS). It has three components, Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) or Michigan Merit Exam (MME), MI-Access, and English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA). MI-Access is designed for students for whom the IEP Team has determined that the MEAP or MME assessments, even with assessment accommodations, are not appropriate.
English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA): The implementation of the ELPA is federally mandated as part of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. It is an assessment to assist schools in determining proficiency of English Language Learners (ELLs). For qualifying students, this assessment can be used in place of MEAP English Language Arts. These students take the MEAP mathematics and science or social studies assessments with the appropriate accommodations.