Backwards planning or “unpacking” standards into discrete skills focuses on the end, like sprinting to the finish line. “Race to the Top” tests standardize and narrow curriculum; struggling learners get left behind.
Teachers should focus on curricular goals (where we want them to go), but equally consider instruction (how we get them there) and assessment (where they are now). Curriculum, instruction, and assessment should all align (Biggs).
Baker, E. L. (2004, December). Aligning Curriculum, Standards, and Assessments: Fulfilling the Promise of School Reform [Scholarly project]. Retrieved from https://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/r645.pdf
Biggs, J.B. (1996) Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment, Higher Education, 32: 1–18.