Curriculum Letter to the Editor

The Key to Making Curriculum Reform Work

May 07, 2019 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

The authors of the recent Commentary about curriculum reform (“Don’t Give Up on Curriculum Reform Just Yet,” April 10, 2019) are right that the “Learning by the Book” study from Harvard University, which found disappointing outcomes stemming from the adoption of more rigorous curricula, is not a reason to give up on the promise of such materials. They’re also right that an investment in professional development for teachers is necessary to make the most of these new materials. But, it’s not just more professional development of any kind.

Igniting the Learning Engine,” a study of four school systems that I co-authored with David Rosenberg and Genevieve Quist Green, found that there are three key success factors needed for schools to take advantage of new curricula: expert-led staff collaboration; frequent, growth-centered feedback; and differentiated learning time and teacher attention.

For example, expert-led staff collaboration looks like organizing teachers into teams who share the same content with at least 90 minutes a week of collaboration time, led by content experts. These instructional leaders must be well trained in techniques for facilitating adult learning and they need to deeply understand the content they are supporting teachers to use. They must work closely with their teacher teams to fully comprehend the instructional shifts required of the curriculum, plan lessons around it, and adjust instruction based on skillful assessment of what students are learning. This model of collaboration is different from many versions of teacher collaboration that are focused on learning new concepts or perhaps school improvement planning, but not necessarily on the daily work of teaching.

The authors suggest that “systematically identifying the package of supports that teachers need to make full use of stronger materials” can lead to progress—but that package of supports must include the three key success factors.

Karen Hawley Miles


Education Resource Strategies

Watertown, Mass.

A version of this article appeared in the May 08, 2019 edition of Education Week as The Key to Making Curriculum Reform Work


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum From Our Research Center Privacy, Porn, and Parents in the Room: Sex Education's Pandemic Challenges
After more than a year of instructional shifts and social isolation, students need sex education that is media-savvy and relationship-wise.
7 min read
Conceptual image of students feeling isolated, but also trying to connect.
Mary Haasdyk for Education Week
Curriculum Calls to Ban Books by Black Authors Are Increasing Amid Critical Race Theory Debates
Books about race and the experiences of Black Americans are being challenged by parents who claim they make white children feel uncomfortable.
8 min read
Fans of Angie Thomas, a Jackson, Miss., resident whose book, "The Hate U Give," has been on a national young adult best-seller list for over 80 weeks, show off their copies at a reception and book signing for the author, in Jackson on Oct. 10, 2018. Thomas' novel has crossed over to a wider audience than simply young adults. The reception honored her writing as well as the coming release of the big screen adaption of the first novel.
The young adult best-seller "The Hate U Give" was one of the top 10 most challenged books of 2020.
Rogelio V. Solis/AP
Curriculum District That Banned Diverse Books Reverses Its Decision After Pushback
A Pennsylvania district voted unanimously to reinstate a four-page list of resources from some of today's most acclaimed creators of color.
Tina Locurto, The York Dispatch, Pa.
3 min read
Image of books on a library shelf.
Curriculum He Taught About White Privilege and Got Fired. Now He's Fighting to Get His Job Back
Matthew Hawn is an early casualty in this year's fight over how teachers can discuss with students America's struggle with racism.
13 min read
Social studies teacher Matthew Hawn is accused of insubordination and repeated unprofessional conduct for sharing Kyla Jenèe Lacey's, 'White Privilege', poem with his Contemporary Issues class. Hawn sits on his couch inside his home on August 17, 2021.
Matthew Hawn is accused of insubordination and repeated unprofessional conduct for lessons and materials he used to teach about racism and white privilege in his Contemporary Issues class at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville, Tenn.<br/>
Caitlin Penna for Education Week