PUSD’s curriculum is based on the learning standards adopted by the California Department of Education. Standards were designed to encourage the highest level of achievement of every student by defining the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire in specific subjects at each grade level.
English Language Arts
Every PUSD student receives daily instruction in English Language Arts, which includes reading, writing and comprehension. PUSD schools emphasize critical reading of informational and literary texts, writing, and composition of various genres and preparation of oral presentations. Students learn to analyze, evaluate and elaborate on what they read, critique the credibility of information, compare works and provide evidence to support ideas using grade-appropriate materials.PUSD elementary schools use the nationally acclaimed Open Court language arts program that has proven effective for teaching students with diverse learning styles. Middle and high schools use the Holt Literature and Language Arts curriculum. The Secondary Literacy Program provides assistance for students who need additional support with reading and comprehension.
PUSD’s history and social studies program connects students and teachers with the abundant historical resources, museums, colleges, and universities located in the greater Pasadena area. The history/social studies program prepares students to be responsible citizens, gain an understanding of global inter-relationships and changes in state, national and world affairs. Topics include history, geography, economics, political science, anthropology, psychology and sociology, and the humanities. The curriculum, aligned to state standards, has a multicultural perspective and is taught sequentially.
PUSD teachers participate in the Teaching American History professional development program to deepen their knowledge of our nation’s history and to learn how to integrate the teaching of history into other parts of the curriculum. PUSD teachers attend seminars led by preeminent historians and scholars, and use original source documents archived in the Huntington Museum and Library, and the Pasadena Museum of History.
PUSD partners with the leading scientific institutions located in the Pasadena area to enhance science instruction in the classroom. The Kindergarten-5th grade science program is aligned with the California standards and introduces students to facts, concepts, principles, theories and experimentation skills through Physical, Earth and Life Science classes. In sixth grade, students learn Earth Sciences, and in seventh grade, they learn Life Sciences, which includes health education. In eighth grade, students focus on Physical Science. High school science consists of content strands in Earth Sciences, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Advanced Placement, or college-level courses, are offered in Chemistry and other subjects.
Schools partner with the Huntington Botanical Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, Caltech, Pasadena City College, local biotechnology industries, the Altadena Foothills Conservancy and the Arroyo Seco Foundation to connect students with the local scientific and natural resources located in and around PUSD.
Reflecting Pasadena’s passion for the arts, visual and performing arts education is a major focus at PUSD schools. PUSD participates in the L.A. County Arts Commission “Arts for All” program and provides high-quality sequential arts education from Kindergarten through 12th grade. PUSD elementary schools use SRA Art Connections to teach art as both a specific subject and as an integral part of core subjects such as social studies and math.
To connect classroom learning with the rich cultural resources of the Pasadena area, PUSD students regularly visit local museums such as Kidspace, the Norton Simon, the Huntington, and the Armory Center for the Arts and others.
Music education has a major focus at PUSD schools. The K-6 music program uses Silver Burdett Making Music. Instrumental music instruction is offered starting in the third grade, with chorus, band, orchestra, drama, dance and more offered at middle and high schools. PUSD's annual spring music festivals feature orchestral, vocal, and instrumental performances by outstanding students.
To enhance and deepen teachers' knowledge of arts instruction, PUSD secured a federal grant that connects experienced artists from the Armory Center for the Arts with third, fourth and fifth grade teachers for professional development. PUSD partners with nationally acclaimed arts organizations located in the Pasadena area, such as the Symphonies of Pasadena, the Pasadena History Museum, the Asian Pacific Museum and the Huntington Museum, Libraries and Gardens to provide rigorous, relevant and engaging arts instruction.
To celebrate arts education, PUSD hosts an annual No Boundaries art exhibition featuring paintings, sculpture, photographs, design, and films of K-12 students. The exhibit is hosted in a different gallery space each year, which is donated by local business partners. Professional art installers donate their services for this signature Pasadena arts event.
Learn more about PUSD Arts Programs.
PUSD elementary and middle schools offer physical education, intramural sports and after-school athletics to enrich the physical and educational development of students. PUSD high school teams have a long tradition of athletic excellence and have claimed numerous CIF championships.