Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

Page Index: History, Curriculum areas, Questions, Definitions, Manuals, Databases, and Rubrics

Prior to 1993, the only statewide educational requirements written in law were for history and physical education. The Education Reform Act called for statewide curriculum frameworks and learning standards for all students in all core academic subjects. 

In December 1995, Massachusetts Department of Education (MADOE) adopted the curriculum frameworks in science/technology, mathematics, world languages, the arts, and health. The state curriculum framework in English/language arts was approved by the Board of Education in January, 1997.  The latest draft of the history/social science framework went through the most revision before being approved. These frameworks are guides designed for teachers to use in preparing their daily lesson plans and for districts to use in planning school district curriculum.

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks
Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks Content Areas

English Language Arts (ELA)
Mathematics Science and Technology  - Engineering History and Social Science Foreign Languages  Comprehensive Health  The  Arts English Language Proficiency

Why are the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks are particularly important to local curriculum developers and educators?

The Frameworks contain the State's expectations of what students must know and be able to do in relation to the content areas. For each learning standard, the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks present key information of what students need to know and performance indicators (statements of what students should do to provide evidence that they understand the key areas). These Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks are the foundation upon which our state assessments (MCAS) are aligned and developed.

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks are NOT designed as local school district curricula. Rather, these core curricula provide assistance to local schools districts who maintain responsibility to design a school curriculum that meets the needs of their students. The Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks allows local school district educators to select texts, identify products, and use a rich array of instructional strategies and activities to meet student needs.

Federal law requires that all children have access to the general education curriculum, here in Massachusetts our general curriculum is Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and School district specific curriculum.

Why are Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks are particularly important to parents who students are part of special education?
Your child's curriculum and instruction can be designed to make sure that student with disabilities have meaningful opportunities to achieve the high academic standards establish for all students.  Based on the general education curriculum, the team (including the parents) need to analyze what skills the student needs to learn.  IEP goals and objectives are based on both the general education curriculum for your child's grade and skills student needs to learn.  IEP goals should have skills focus, rather then curriculum focus.  The team need to be able to identify educational goals at varying levels of complexity that are based on learning standards and are challenging and achievable for each student.

Learning Standards - general descriptions of what every student must know and be able to do in each subject area. Standards are defined on the state and followed on the local levels.

Learning Standards with modifications are called "entry points".

Entry Points describe how students with disabilities can access the learning standards at a challenging level, along a continuum from Less Complex to More Complex. 

Curriculum (plural: curricula) - the detailed, description of all of the elements included in our instructional program, including:

Strands - subdivisions of a subject to help organize teaching and learning.   The strands can be found in the following the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks Manuals.  For example, three mathematics strands are: (1) Patterns, Relations and Functions, (2) Probability and Statistics, and (3) Geometry and Measurement. 

Product - a student work or performance that demonstrates what the student knows and can do. Examples: a written report, science project, speech or painting.

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks Manuals:
English Language Arts June 2001/May 2004
Mathematics November 2000
Science and Technology/Engineering 
October 2006
History and Social Science August 2003
Comprehensive Health October 1999
Foreign Languages  
August 1999
October 1999
English Language Proficiency: Benchmarks and Outcomes June 2003    

There are several web sites that have user friendly databases, that are much easier to read.  For example they will list a all the strands per subject by grade level or age.

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks On-Line Databases:

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks Database - SmartEDU, Inc.

Mass Curriculum Frameworks Database - Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)

MassONE Curriculum Search Tool

MCAS Writing Scoring Rubrics:

MCAS Writing Scoring Guide - Composition Grade 4

MCAS Writing Scoring Guide - Composition Grade 7

MCAS Writing Scoring Guide - Composition Grade 10

To view the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks manuals or for more information, see the Department of Education website:
    Department main number in Malden: 781-338-6400

Write to:
The Department of Education
350 Main Street
Malden, MA  02148-5023


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