Curriculum alignment is an academic term meaning that the state and local academic standards, educational programs, instructional materials, teaching techniques and academic assessments all coordinate with one another within schools. Different components of curriculum alignment take place at the school, district and state levels. Schools and school districts implement curriculum alignment as part of an effort to improve student performance. Most school districts must provide their states with curriculum guides or other documentation to demonstrate how they are meeting the standards.

Vertical and Horizontal Alignment

There are two main forms of curriculum alignment. A vertically aligned curriculum is scaffolded so that the information students learn in a lower grade or a previous course prepares them for more advanced grades and more challenging work. A curriculum that is horizontally aligned means that the same material is being taught across different classrooms in a given grade level, and that the material being taught is in alignment with the learning standards and assessments established by the district or state. Federal and state agencies use curriculum alignment to standardize education for the purpose of improving academic achievement and educational quality. The alignment is also used to mitigate factors like race, gender and socioeconomic levels that often cause disparity in academic performance.