Education

The Curriculum-Review Process

October 12, 1983 2 min read
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The summary report of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s curriculum-evaluation project advises schools undertaking a review of their curriculum to follow six basic steps. These include:

Establishing the Process. The way a curriculum-review project is initiated has much to do with its eventual success, network participants say. They recommend that schools first announce the intent of the curriculum review, stating the reasons the effort is needed and its expected results. A steering committee should be formed that includes teachers, administrators, school-board members, and students. A “needs assessment"--which offers a convenient way to involve different groups, say the participants, and useful results that may determine the direction for the entire study--should be conducted.

Adopting a Model. The curriculum-reform group should review various conceptions of ways to organize knowledge and then choose, or design, one suitable to their circumstances. (Six of the network groups adopted a general-education model developed by Ernest L. Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Three schools based their work on a model proposed by Mr. Cawelti; others referred to the basic academic competencies published last spring by the College Board and a model developed in 1964 by Harry S. Broudy, professor of education and philosophy emeritus of the Univer-sity of Illinois.

Defining Specific Skills. The next step is to define the specific skills, competencies, and concepts that all students must master, and the broader objectives and outcomes in learning and development that the curriculum should produce, according to the report.

Planning Curriculum Changes. Once the specific skills were outlined, ''most schools in the network did not immediately begin to plan a new curriculum but instead had teachers, and sometimes students, inventory the extent to which the items were included in current courses,” according to the curriculum report. The curriculum groups analyzed student transcripts to determine the proportion of students in those courses, revised the structure and content of courses, and prepared recommended changes in graduation requirements that they deemed necessary to accomplish their goals.

Recommending Changes to the School Board. The local board of education should be kept informed of the project from the beginning to avoid problems later on, network members advise.

Implementing Changes. Schools should complete the curriculum-development project by selecting materials, conducting staff-development programs to ensure that all understand and can work with the changes, and planning ways to assess students’ mastery of the new required competencies and skills.

--sr

A version of this article appeared in the October 12, 1983 edition of Education Week as The Curriculum-Review Process

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