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Following are some of the major trends that can influence curriculum, based on history and current literature. As part of your curriculum work, you may want to create your own list of current trends, paying particular attention to trends in your area.
At the time of this writing, there is considerable debate about national standards. Although almost all national organizations representing the various subject areas have issued voluntary content standards, policy battles over the proper federal role have stalled some of the most ambitious plans for implementing them. Continuing dissatisfaction with student achievement, especially as reflected in the news media, is likely to result in more discussion of the proper role of national standards. In a well-balanced analysis, Smith, Fuhrman, and O'Day summarize the pros and cons of national standards.
Advocates, they say, assert that standards will Ensure that all citizens will have the shared knowledge and values needed to make democracy work. Result in greater efficiency, since all 50 states can draw upon the national standards. Encourage state and local boards to raise their standards. Improve the quality of schooling. Ensure a large measure of educational equity. That variation in consistency is probably one of the factors accounting for international differences in achievement.
Still, Smith and colleagues note several disadvantages emphasized by the critics of national standards: Common standards tend to reflect minimum skills and knowledge, which results in lowering the entire system. The development of standards at the national level will draw resources from state and local efforts.
EMM441 Curriculum Method 1: Mathematics (8)
National standards can become a de facto curriculum that will inhibit local creativity in curriculum development. Standards alone will have no effect on student achievement unless significant resources are provided to local school systems an unlikely development given attempts to downsize the federal government. Kendall and Marzano raise some practical cautions regarding national standards. Their report, a systematic compilation of the national standards that have been developed by various professional organizations, suggests that implementing all of the emerging recommendations would be an impossible task for curriculum leaders.
According to their analysis, a student would have to master three "benchmarks" every week to achieve all the standards set by the professional groups. A benchmark is a school-level or grade-level objective derived from the standards. Clearly, then, developing curricula informed by national standards will prove much more difficult than simply incorporating the recommendations of subject matter experts.
While the debate rages regarding the desirability of national standards, there appears to be growing consensus on the desirability of state standards.
A survey by Pechman and Laguarda indicated that 45 states had developed or were developing curriculum frameworks; as of this writing, only Iowa lacks curriculum standards in mathematics and English language arts. And those frameworks, unlike the general guidelines that marked past efforts, seem to be detailed some would say prescriptive and backed by state-developed tests. Smith and colleagues report that preliminary results from California suggest that "ambitious content standards reinforced by assessment and other policies have the potential to improve schooling" p.
The evidence on teacher attitudes is somewhat inconclusive.
Two studies suggest that most teachers have negative attitudes about externally imposed curriculum standards Rosenholtz, ; McNeil, Several experts have noted problems with states setting standards in curriculum. See especially Fuhrman, The standards are set by state officials who are far removed from local schools and free from the burden of accountability. Curriculum standards are often not supported with other systemic changes, such as new approaches to teacher education. Thus state initiatives may be seen as fragmented and often contradictory.
And at a time of limited resources and the accompanying downsizing of staffs, most state departments of education do not have the wherewithal to help local districts implement state standards. This trend has several implications for curriculum workers. First, developers at the state level should recognize the need for comprehensive support of the educators they serve.
At the district level, developers should create curricula that address such state standards, while still providing for curriculum development at the school and classroom levels. Finally, school administrators and teachers should find ways to make the district curriculum relevant to the students. For additional details, see the Putting Standards to Work in Schools section on page Constructivism is a theory of learning based on the principle that learners construct meaning from what they experience; thus, learning is an active, meaning-making process.
Although constructivism seems to have made its strongest impact on science and mathematics curricula, leaders in other fields are attempting to embody in curriculum units the following principles: Units should be problem-focused, requiring the student to solve open-ended contextualized problems. Units should enable the students to have access to research and other knowledge in solving problems generative knowledge. Learning strategies such as the use of matrices and web diagrams should be taught in the context of solving problems. The teacher should provide the necessary scaffolding or structure throughout units.
Because learning is a social process, teachers should ensure that students spend at least part of their time in group formats, such as cooperative learning. Units should conclude by requiring the student to demonstrate learning in some authentic manner. In developing a constructivist unit, curriculum leaders should find two sources useful if greater depth is needed: Glatthorn a and Brooks and Brooks In the face of drastic changes in the economy, the workplace, and the workforce, forward-looking career educators are moving toward new approaches to curriculum.
Three developments seem significant: Emphasizing generic skills. While almost all career educators see a continuing need to train students in career-specific skills so they can find employment upon graduation, there is increased interest in generic skills that are broadly transferable to almost any career. Perhaps one of the best formulations of these generic skills is that produced by Stasz, McArthur, Lewis, and Ramsey , whose formulation is shown in Figure 1.
As can be seen from this list, the intent is to equip all students with skills that will enable them to function in a changing economy and a changing workplace. Figure 1. Writing clearly and effectively.
EMM442 Curriculum Method 2: Mathematics (8)
Mastering mathematical computations Performing practical life skills e. Learning how to learn. Presented as a problem-solving process.
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Recognizing a problem. Analyzing the problem. Generating solution paths. Evaluating the paths and monitoring implementation. Repairing, using alternative actions. Reflecting about the process and the solution. Attitudes and Dispositions Ability to make decisions. Willingness to take responsibility for one's decisions.
Willingness to be bold in decision making. Learning the parameters of the workplace. Cooperating with others. Except for some critics of technology for example, Apple, , there is general agreement among educators that schools will continue to increase their use of sophisticated technologies. Schools have become so comfortable with using the computer to manage the curriculum and to facilitate student learning that discussions of whether they should adopt these technologies have given way to questions of how they will use them.
In any case, technology should be seen as a way of supporting curriculum objectives rather than as an add-on. A cold war is being fought over the control of curriculum. State departments of education are becoming much more active in this area, developing detailed standards and related high-stakes tests.
At the same time, schools using site-based management are exercising their authority to develop their own curricula. Districts continue to assert their authority over the curriculum, and classroom teachers close the door and teach what they wish to teach. Because each of these parties has a part to play in the process, curriculum developers should foster cooperation among them.
As Fuhrman and Elmore point out, curriculum work is performed most effectively when each level of authority exercises its legitimate role in a collaborative manner. Figure 2 summarizes the recommended functions for each level. Obviously the allocation of these functions should be reviewed closely and critically. Although this breakdown is based on knowledge of the literature and experience in consulting with personnel at all four levels, the specific functions undertaken at each level should be determined by state officials, district leaders, principals, and teachers through consultation.
Several factors will affect how these functions are best allocated in a particular school district: the extent of state control; the school district's size; staffing in the central office; the principals' competence as curriculum leaders; and the ability of teachers to function as curriculum leaders. Thus district and school leaders should view the analysis shown in Figure 2 only as a starting point.
Figure 2. Recommended Allocations of Curriculum Functions State Functions Develop state frameworks, including broad goals, general standards, and graduation requirements. Develop state tests and other performance measures in required academic subjects.
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Provide needed resources to local districts. Evaluate state frameworks. District Functions Develop and implement curriculum-related policies. Provide fiscal support for curriculum. Develop a vision of a high-quality curriculum. Develop educational goals aligned with state goals.
Identify the core program of studies for each level of schooling. Develop the documents for a mastery curriculum for each subject, including scope-and-sequence charts and curriculum guides. A mastery curriculum is one that specifies only those essential outcomes that are likely to be tested and require explicit instruction.
Select instructional materials. Develop district curriculum-based tests and other performance measures to supplement state tests. Provide fiscal and other resources needed at the school level, including technical assistance. Evaluate the curriculum. Develop the structures to facilitate community and teacher input into the curriculum.
Provide staff development programs for school administrators. School Functions Develop the school's vision of a high-quality curriculum, building on the district's vision. It is assumed that students have completed EMM prior to undertaking this subject. Advanced discipline content knowledge in mathematics. The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of EMM in Session 2 Please note this is a guide only.