Monday, March 21, 2011

Call for Common Content: how the advocates want to do the work

In yesterday's post, I described a new, high-powered call to develop a shared curriculum, providing grade-by-grade steps in major subjects and going a giant step beyond the current Common Core approach to literacy and mathematics. The "Call" statement recommends seven guidelines for how that sort of curriculum should be created:
1. Developing one or more sets of curriculum guides that map out the core content students need to master the new Common Core State Standards
2. Involving teachers, content experts, and cognitive scientists — not just curriculum designers by trade — in the development of such curriculum guides.
3. Writing the common core curriculum guides with care and restraint, such that — when taught at a reasonable pace, with reasonable depth—they would account for about 50 to 60 percent of a school's available academic time.
4. Including sample lessons, examples of acceptable levels of student work, and assessments that help teachers focus instruction as well as measure student outcomes.
5. Establishing a nongovernmental quality control body, with a governance structure composed of professionals: teachers, content experts, cognitive scientists, curriculum designers, and assessment authorities.
6. Creating state teaching quality oversight bodies to work on linking student standards and curriculum guidance to teacher preparation and development, and to ensure that sufficient resources are allotted to these efforts.
7. Increasing federal investments in implementation support, in comparative international studies related to curriculum and instruction, and in evaluations aimed at finding the most effective curriculum sequences, curriculum materials, curricular designs, and instructional strategies.
Do notice the carefully limited role for the federal government in that: there is no call for the U.S. government to create the curriculum or provide incentives to adopt it.  Instead, the plan is to create an approach shared by multiple states, or even several approaches each shared by a number of states, with the feds contributing international comparison insights and evaluation research.

That recommendation, plus the clarity about using teacher expertise and an additional note in along side recommendation 4 that says "We do not, however, recommend that any specific pedagogical approach be adopted for broad-scale use," tipped the scales for me.  I've signed on, thinking that doing this work can make a significant difference for future learning

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!