Pittsburgh has hired a private company to write a coherent curriculum for city schools, reports the Post-Gazette.
Because course content is uneven and out of sync with state standards, the Pittsburgh Public School district is paying New York-based Kaplan K12 Learning Services $8.4 million to write standardized curricula for grades six through 12.
. . . Teachers in other districts have complained that Kaplan’s detailed curriculum turned them into automatons and deprived them of time to cover material in adequate detail or help students with individual needs.
. . . Pittsburgh school officials cite an urgent need to bring coherence and rigor to what’s taught and tested in the district’s classrooms.
Not just a test-prep company any more, Kaplan went into curricula writing three years ago.
In 2003, the company began providing professional development and instructional materials to the 97 schools in low-performing District 5 in the New York City school system. Two years later, Kaplan said, District 5 was leading the school system in test gains.
Kaplan will tie the curriculum to state standards and test student progress every six weeks. Superintendent Mark Roosevelt wants to “use the results to provide extra help to struggling students. But he also wants to provide coaching or other assistance to teachers when results show large groups of their students falling behind.” I predict teachers will interpret “coaching” as monitoring for bad teachers.
Education Gadfly writes that the state standards are so weak that a standards-linked curriculum may not do students much good.