Academics and Testing

Programs and Curriculum

Academics are at the core of what we do at the Institute of Technology and Academics. ITA prides itself on providing a comprehensive curriculum that focuses on the whole child. We believe that learning should be hands-on and engaging. We use nationally recognized, research-based programs as a foundation for instruction. Our goal is to ensure that our scholars leave our school at or above grade level and ready to compete with their peers nationally.


The Institute of Technology and Academics strives to ensure that all students become high level readers and writers. Students are expected to meet the State Standards in ELA adopted by the State of Wisconsin at each grade level. ITA uses Engage New York's Common Knowledge Curriculum to  approach and stress the essential components of Reading through explicit teaching of phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, expressiveness, vocabulary, comprehension, spelling, writing, and handwriting. 

The Core Knowledge Language Arts Listening and Learning Strand is designed to help students build the background knowledge and vocabulary critical to listening and reading comprehension. The decoding skills needed for future independent reading are taught separately in the Core Knowledge Language Arts Skills Strand. The two strands complement each other, building the requisite decoding and comprehension skills that comprise fluent, mature reading. The teaching of the two strands, however, need not be correlated, i.e., teachers may provide instruction and practice in a given unit of the Skills Strand as needed, while moving on to new topics and anthologies in the Listening and Learning Strand. 

The Skills Strand teaches the mechanics of reading–students are taught systematic and explicit phonics instruction as their primary tool for decoding written English. By the end of grade 2, students have learned all of the sound‐spelling correspondences in the English language and are able to decode written material they encounter. In addition to phonics, students also are taught spelling, grammar, and writing during the Skills Strand.


Curriculum modules in mathematics are marked by in-depth focus on fewer topics. They integrate the CCLS, rigorous classroom reasoning, extended classroom time devoted to practice and reflection through extensive problem sets, and high expectations for mastery. The time required to complete a curriculum module will depend on the scope and difficulty of the mathematical content that is the focus of the module (first priority cluster area for a given grade level). For example, the curriculum module relating to Grade 3 multiplication and division introduces initial ideas of multiplication and division in a brief period at the start of the year, continues to develop strategies and problem solving throughout the year, and includes materials to be used throughout the year for helping students reach fluency by the end of the year with single-digit multiplication and related division.

Connecting the Standards for Mathematical Practice to the Standards for Mathematical Content

The Standards for Mathematical Practice(link is external) describe ways in which developing student practitioners of the discipline of mathematics increasingly ought to engage with the subject matter as they grow in mathematical maturity and expertise throughout the elementary, middle and high school years. Designers of curricula, assessments, and professional development should all attend to the need to connect the mathematical practices to mathematical content in mathematics instruction.

The Standards for Mathematical Content are a balanced combination of procedure and understanding. Expectations that begin with the word “understand” are often especially good opportunities to connect the practices to the content. Students who lack understanding of a topic may rely on procedures too heavily. Without a flexible base from which to work, they may be less likely to consider analogous problems, represent problems coherently, justify conclusions, apply the mathematics to practical situations, use technology mindfully to work with the mathematics, explain the mathematics accurately to other students, step back for an overview, or deviate from a known procedure to find a shortcut. In short, a lack of understanding effectively prevents a student from engaging in the mathematical practices.

SHARP Literacy

The SHARP Literacy program is tailored to help K5 through fifth grade students build reading, writing and researching skills by using the visual arts as the primary tool for learning. Each lesson corresponds with Wisconsin state-mandated curriculum and is aligned with the Milwaukee Public School district’s Comprehensive Literacy Plan and the Common Core Standards. With that strong foundation in place, our staff and the teachers in our participating schools develop each year’s Writing Challenge and other enrichment components. The program integrates literacy within the following social studies and science units: 

K5: Science – Plants 
First grade: Science – Bees
 Second grade: Science – Great Lakes 
Third grade: Social Studies – Communities
 Fourth grade: Social Studies – Wisconsin
 Fifth grade: Social Studies – Building a Nation


The Institute of Technology and Academics uses the Full Option Science System (FOSS) at the 5-8 level.  FOSS strives to develop students’ abilities to do and understand scientific inquiry through:

Asking questions and defining problems 

Planning and conducting investigations

Analyzing and interpreting data

Developing and using models

Using mathematics, information and computer technology, and computational thinking

Constructing explanations and designing solutions

Engaging in argument from evidence

Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Progress Monitoring and Testing

Wisconsin Forward Exam

The Wisconsin Forward Exam is an online assessment that is administered in schools across the state of Wisconsin. This standardized assessment is given to students once a year and measures student progress in Reading and Mathematics from year to year. 

STAR 360

The Star 360 assessment is an online progress monitoring tool that tracks academic growth in Reading and Mathematics. ITA scholars take this computer adaptive test four times a year. The teacher uses the data to provide targeted remediation and extension activities within the classroom.  

Benchmark Assessments

The Institute of Technology and Academics administers benchmark assessments in Reading each trimester. The benchmarks are centered around ITA’s “Power Standards.” The Common Cores Standards for Reading: Informational Standards Standards 1, 8, and 9 drive instruction and urge students to “Prove It,” “Explain It,” and “Compare It” every day.