Curriculum and Instruction

Curriculum and Instruction

Director: Ellis Ayers

Administrative Assistant: Bev Baird

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction for Avery County Schools focuses on the basic learning skills: reading, writing, and mathematics.

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Professional Learning Communities

Avery County Schools is poised at the edge of a new era in educational success.  Our school system is moving from good to great.  The focus on student learning is at the center of this educational paradigm shift.

Avery County Schools has cultivated collaboration among teachers to promote Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s).  Each PLC is different in makeup, but is committed to progressive curriculum goals that are consistent.

Consistent PLC Goals

  • Ensuring that students learn
  • A culture of collaboration
  • Effective response to results

Consistent PLC Question

  •     Are you teaching the right things?
  •     Are you teaching them the right way?
  •     How do you know your students are learning?
  •     What are you doing for those who are not?

PLC's are teacher directed responses to student learning needs.

Updated state level professional development sessions through WRESA and RESA may be found at:

Grade Level Focus


Developmentally appropriate learning experiences are provided for children ages three and four who are chosen to participate based on need as defined by program guidelines. Included are children with special needs, those at risk, and those who are developing typically. The program, which enables children to become "ready to learn" for entering kindergarten, is funded by a blending of sources including the Avery County Partnership for Children, Exceptional Children's Program, Title I, Title VI, state At-Risk and local funds. Benchmarks are in place for our Pre-School Standard Course of Study. The average academic growth gain for children participating in pre kindergarten is 1.5 months gain for each 1.0 months enrolled.

Kindergarten through Fifth Grade

The kindergarten through fifth grade program provides the foundation for continued learning. The cornerstone of the K-5 program is a balanced, integrated, and effective reading program which includes early and systematic phonics instruction. The development of math and writing skills begins in kindergarten and continues through fifth grade. Systematic assessment of student progress is a key factor in academic success. As learning difficulties are identified, immediate help is provided so that the student may experience success. Specific strategies are discussed with parents who are urged to become actively involved in improving their child's academic achievement. Every effort is made to help all students enter third grade on grade level. One-on-one tutoring in reading and math are provided before, during, and after school as needed. Because of immediate interventions in grades K-5, less than 13% of students are performing below grade level when they enter high school.

Middle School

Both Cranberry and Avery Middle Schools focus on basic learning skills so that students will enter high school with a good academic foundation. Additionally, students participate in a wide variety of special interest courses in music, art, foreign language, international studies, technology, career development, and various mini courses determined by a students' particular interests. Students are assessed periodically throughout the school year to determine grade level mastery. Student assessment teams convene regularly to determine suitable and immediate interventions for the individual student.

High School

Avery High School offers a comprehensive curriculum in both academic and vocational/technical education. Students may select from eighteen major career pathways including the arts and technology. Students who complete the requirements for a high school diploma may expect to be adequately prepared for entrance to the appropriate level of post secondary education. Students are given the opportunity to take the College Board Computerized Placement Test (CPT) near the end of the sophomore year to determine their readiness to enter the community college system. Their final two years of high school may then be used to concentrate on skill development necessary for this educational setting. Students planning to enter four year colleges have a full range of courses to meet necessary requirements. Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) prep classes are offered to help prepare for college entrance exams. SAT scores continue to rise at Avery High. The school average far surpasses the state average and is nearing the national average of 1016. Each year approximately 40% of all seniors qualify as North Carolina Scholars.

Credit Demonstrated by Mastery

What is CDM?

CDM is a new option for students to obtain credit for standard level high school courses without taking the course in the classroom or through NCVPS. CDM cannot be used for honors or Advanced Placement courses.  Under the guidelines established by the State Board of Education, CDM is only available for students that achieve mastery of course material "at a level that demonstrates a deep understanding of the content standards and the ability to apply his or her knowledge of the material."  Earning CDM requires that the student successfully complete a two-phase process as follows:

Phase I: A Standard Examination

  • Achieving a Level V score on an End of Course (EOC) test in a subject for which an EOC test is offered
  • Achieving a score of 93% or higher on courses for which a CTE Post Assessment is available
  • Achieving a score of 94% or higher on an assessment for a course in which an EOC or CTE Post Assessment is not available such as a North Carolina Final Exam (NCFE).

Phase II: Completing an Artifact (work product)

The artifact will be a project that demonstrates the student's ability to apply the knowledge and skills of the course. It will be developed and assigned by the school and may take the form of a written project, a skills demonstration, an oral presentation or interview, and/or other assessments appropriate for the course.

What Courses are Eligible?

CDM is available for most standard level high school courses in grades 9-12. The following courses are excluded from CDM:

  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) work-based learning courses (co-op, internship, apprenticeship)
  • CTE courses that have a clinical setting as a requirement of the course, such as ProStart, Early Childhood Education I/II and Nursing Fundamentals  
  • CTE Advanced Studies courses or any CTE course without state technical standards
  • English Language Learner (ELL) courses
  • Healthful Living required courses
  • Honors and AP Courses

Additional Links

Common Core Reference Links