Curriculum is the missing link

Agreeing on Common Core Standards isn’t enough, writes Eugenia Kemble on the Shanker Blog. Curriculum is the missing link.

. . .  implementation requires curriculum – that is, the selection and sequencing of essential content knowledge so that teachers can produce a sensible year’s worth of expected learning in the core domains of math, literature, science, history, civics, the arts, foreign languages, and health and physical education.

More detailed than even the most thorough state standards, but less detailed than textbooks and daily lesson plans, a high-quality common core curriculum would clearly define what teachers should teach and when students should learn it.

Most developed nations align education around a common curriculum, Kemble writes. But it would require major changes in the U.S. education system, which is based on local control.  She argues it’s worth it.

. . .  think about what doing this might actually mean for all the pop solutions currently on the table – good teacher preparation (education schools might have to acknowledge that student curriculum actually matters), good teacher evaluation (we might even consider the fairness of having a consistent set of expectations for what students should know), good research (imagine research not plagued by an inability to truly control for the variation in what students are expected to learn), performance pay, targeting low performing schools, assessments to measure defined accomplishment rather than to differentiate students, and on and on.

Kemble praises E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Foundation for “aligning its successful curriculum sequence to the new Common Core Standards.”  In addition, the Common Core organization (no relation to the Common Core Standards group) is developing curriculum maps aligned with the new common English language arts standards.

Standards need a curriculum foundation to make a difference, Kemble argues.

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  1. tim-10-ber says:

    Local control? Please that has now flown out the door with the adoption of the CCS and RTTT funds…the only thing local today is the election of the board and the hiring of the director. Everything else is state controlled or pretty soon, with the testing of the CCS in the 2014-2015 year, federal…

    Get real, please

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    A uniform national curriculum means two things with certainty:

    (1) If we make a mistake, everyone makes it.

    (2) An escalation of the life-death struggle for curricular control to a fever pitch as the entire country gets put into one, winner-take-all contest.

  3. Right–that’s all we need. Another committee. Because lord knows, the achievement gap is caused by a lack of curriculum and low standards.


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