Untitled Document
Home About Us
Lessons & Assessments
Links Contact Us
The Institute for Standards, Curricula, and Assessments (ISCA) of the United Teachers Educational Foundation was established in October 1999 by a federal grant to:

provide teachers with technical and technological support for using Lesson Design Study to develop standards-based curricular units and assessments that challenge and engage students
disseminate the field-tested units and assessments designed by classroom teachers in order to advance the collective knowledge of teachers.

The work of ISCA began with the Language Arts Project (LAP) in 1989. Troubled by low test scores, UTLA and LAUSD formed an assessment committee co- chaired by Day Higuchi, former UTLA President, and Daveda Shapiro, principal. This was the first time the union and the district formed a working committee co-chaired by UTLA and LAUSD to make sweeping recommendations for assessment and instructional issues—a genuine joint venture.

The committee found that norm-referenced, multiple-choice tests provided too little information too late to assist teachers in planning their instructional programs to meet student needs. The committee recommended the development of performance-based assessments, and that content standards be set as clear achievement markers to be taught to and assessed. At the time, there were no national or state academic standards.

Then, one of the classroom teachers representing UTLA on the committee, wrote a grant creating a partnership between UTLA, LAUSD, and National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA. The partnership conjointly launched the Language Arts Project (LAP) funded by the Stuart Foundation, LAUSD, and CRESST. LAP’s charge was to create language arts standards and develop standards-based units and performance assessments measuring student learning for writing and text analysis.

The classroom teacher who wrote the grant became the LAP project director at UCLA. The project director organized hundreds of teachers, administrators, parents, and community members, to accomplish the LAP’s goals by producing the Language Arts Handbook Integrating Standards, Curricula, and Assessments (For free downloads, click here). It contained:

Language Arts Content Standards
Standards-Based Literature Units with Student Work Grades 3, 7, 9
Standards-Based Classroom Performance Assessments and Writing Rubrics

The Handbook was reviewed by the National Writing Project at the University of California at Berkeley, who said,

 "This handbook can play a significant role in improving instruction and preparing teachers, both veteran and new, for the next generation of students and higher levels of achievement necessary to take part in the 21st Century."

The Handbook was given to every principal in the LAUSD.

The next step was to establish a Lesson Design Study research and development center to work out the technical and technological support teachers need in order to develop units and assessments at their schools. The project director of the LAP wrote a federal grant to establish ISCA in October 1999. The ISCA director organized teams of teachers to research, field-test, and refine standards-based literature units and performance assessments.

In 2001, ISCA published Lesson Study Integrating Standards, Curricula and Assessments, Volume 2. Using the California English:Language Arts Content Standards, Volume 2 contains ISCA’s Lesson Design Study process for developing high quality field-tested, standards-based curricula and assessments, rubrics, student work, teacher commentaries, and revision notes to students (elementary, middle school, and high school). A copy for each school was delivered to the LAUSD to disseminate to every school in the district.

Currently, ISCA:

Leads Lesson Design Study seminars year-round for inner city middle and high schools and an elementary school. These schools download their units from this website.
Offers technology courses for new teachers meeting BTSA induction requirements
Conducts advanced seminars for teachers ready to lead Lesson Design Study seminars for teachers from their schools
Sponsor Lesson Design Study Conferences for Parents

Each year, ISCA Lesson Design Study progress has been researched by Prof. Wellford Wilms, of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information studies.


Since 1993, first LAP, and now ISCA, exist because of the magnanimous financial support and encouragement of our partners at various stages of our work. We greatly appreciate their abiding encouragement (Listed in order of most recent partnerships):

Washington Mutual
State Farm Insurance
California Teachers’ Association
United States Department of Education
Stuart Foundation
National Center for Research, Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST)
Los Angeles Unified School District
American Federation of Teachers

For more information contact Charlotte Higuchi, Project Director, at (213) 639-0804.

This description is heavily drawn from Lesson Study: Language Arts Handbook Integrating Standards, Curricula, and Assessments, Volume 2, by Charlotte Higuchi, United Teachers Educational Foundation, 2001.

3303 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 430
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Phone: (213) 639-0800
Fax: (213) 381-9229

Copyright © 2017. The Institute for Standards, Curricula, and Assessments. All rights reserved.