AHEAD OF THE CLASS

Curriculum and Instruction: Frequently Asked Questions

1. Q.  What is meant by the term curriculum?

A. Curriculum serves as a guideline for instruction that helps teachers, students, and parents know what topics must be covered and mastered for a particular course. The curriculum establishes the minimum standards, but does not prohibit educational systems, schools, or teachers from adding material to it. Some systems may have curricula of their own, but they must include everything that the state requires (Oliva, 2009).

2.
Q.   What is the relationship between curriculum & instruction?

A. Curriculum planners are faced with a heavy burden when selecting a model that meets the major educational goals and specific objectives they wish to accomplish. The terms goals and objectives have been used by different people in diffrent ways.  "The term goal applies to the overarching purpose of curriculum, and the term objective is reserved for day-to-day instructional targets of what students should know or be able to do" (Marzano, 2009) 

3. Q. What are the bases for curriculum planning?

A. Curriculum design requires planners to clarify their own philosophies, be aware of statewide and national aims of education, and identify principal beliefs of educational philosophy that can be communicated to other professionals and to the public (Oliva, 2009).   The Volusia Proficiency Model is grounded in research and offers an alternative to the current traditional grading system which was not designed to ensure all students are given the same opportunity to learn at high levels.  The basis for this model is to find a more accurate measure of standards attainment; increase attention to performance standards and student outcomes; change ineffective teaching and grading practices; and enhance state assessment scores.  Additionally, discovering identified unmet needs not only plays an essential role in the VPM; it has become an essential part of ongoing curriculum improvement in Volusia County (Volusia County Schools, 2009).

4. Q.  What criteria can be used to plan, develop, & implement curricula?

A. Outlining the levels and types of needs of students is a basic principle of curriculum development.  Ronald Doll, author and expert on curriculum development, wrote eleven principles to guide educators during the process of curriculum development and modifications.

Curriculum decisions should be made:
 

1.    for legitimate educational reasons.
2.    on the basis of the most current and most reliable evidence.
3.    in a context of broadly conceived educational goals.
4.    within a context that protects the balance of important curriculum    
       considerations.
5.    by achieving a resolution of forces that derive in the nature and 
       development of the learners, the learning process, as well as the 
       demands of society, the local community, and the nature and 
       structure of subject matter to be learned.
6.    in cooperation with the people who are most directly affected by the 
       decisions. 
7.    considering new facts of human life.
8.    with considerations given to individual differences in learners.
9.    with rational consideration of particular organizational and engineering 
       concerns that can directly affect the quality of the decisions.
10.  with some consideration as to how the decisions will be communicated. 
11.  exclusively to content that outside of school is impossible

 (Doll, 1996).

5. Q.  How do values influence curriculum planning?

A. Although many forces directly impact and affect change in curriculum, there are several stakeholders liable for these priorities.  Government must provide the resources needed to enable every child to succeed and to truly leave no child behind.  Local communities must account for public education to ensure that their future workers are socially, technically and academically prepared to be successful contributors to society.    School officials must place superior teachers in the classroom, help teachers improve their teaching practices, supply the types of evaluation tools implemented for teacher performance and make certain that administrative leadership for teachers is outstanding.  Students must meet academic standards and take an active role in their learning by participating in and making every effort to complete the class work.  Parents must take serious responsibility for their child’s education and should oversee that their child attends school, knows the value of education and behaves in acceptable ways.  (Florida Department of Education, 2010).  Understanding the aims and values of curriculum planning means understanding the interaction of these various features. Therefore, the  successful implementation of any curriculum reform must take these factors into consideration (Metais, 1997).

6. Q. What are some of the strongest challenges in meeting the needs for curriculum and the future?

A. Never before has it been more essential to acquire sophisticated technological skills for the 21st Century job market.  The overwhelming impact of global economic processes, including production, consumption, trade, capital flow, and financial interdependence has had specific and tangible implications for how education is changing, and will need to change within the context of nation-states around the world.  According to the 25-member National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century, the future well-being of our nation and people depends not just on how well we educate our children generally, but on how well we educate them in mathematics and science specifically. Mathematics and science will also supply the core forms of knowledge that the next generation of innovators, producers, and workers in every country will need if they are to solve the unforeseen problems and dream the dreams that will define America’s future”  (U.S. Department of Education, 2000).   While there are many challenges facing curriculum planners, the greatest is the creation of a curriculum which will prepare students to be productive and successful contributors to our democratic society (Volusia County Schools, 2010).  

References

Doll, R.  (1996). Curriculum improvement: decision making and process (9th
     ed, pp. 219-229.). Boston:  Allyn and Bacon.

Florida Department of Education. (2010). School Improvement Plan.  Retrieved on May 4,  2011 from  http://www.flbsi.org/1011_SIP/Login.aspx

Metais, J.  (1997).  Values and aims in curriculum and assessment frameworks.    
     Retrieved on May 5, 2011, from http://www.inca.org.uk/pdf/values_no_intro_97.pdf


Oliva, P.F. (2009). Curriculum Development: Components of the Process: Models for
              Curriculum Development. In D. Stollenwerk, Developing the Curriculum (7th, pp. 
              125-130, 145-173, & 183-206). Boston, MA: Pearson, Allyn and Bacon.

   

U.S. Department of Education. (2008). A Nations Accountable: Twenty-five Years  
                   After ANation A
t Risk. Retrieved on May 5, 2011from
                   http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/accountable/accountable.pdf 


Volusia Proficiency Model Retrievedon May 3, 2011 from:      http://blackboard.volusia.k12.fl.us/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?
     tab_tab_group_id=_16_1
 Volusia County Schools, 2011

Volusia County Schools. (2010). Team Volusia: Race to the Top  Retrieved on May 5, 2011 from
                    http://blackboard.volusia.k12.fl.us/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_150