The written curriculum defines the courses of study offered by an educational institution. In today's age of accountability, America 's public schools must present clear and complete descriptions of learning opportunities that will prepare students with knowledge, skills, and habits of mind for the 21 st century.
Well-developed curriculum guides establish the relationship between the written, taught, and tested curriculum. They are essential tools for teachers and vehicles for communication between schools, parents, and the greater community. Clearly stated prerequisite skills; learning objectives that are aligned to state standards; instructional tools, strategies, and resources (including technology); and formative and summative assessments that are used to monitor student performance and inform instructional practice are basic components of sound curriculum guides.
Teachers depend on curriculum guides for the implementation of creative and innovative models of instructional delivery. The vertical connection between grades, and the horizontal coordination among same-grade courses should make apparent the progression of skills from year to year and from course to course. Eventually, curriculum guides should foster the development of students' knowledge and the skills required to make sound post-secondary education and career choices. Also, curriculum guides should contain explicit instructions on meeting the diverse learning needs of all students. T he guides are not optional documents; they must be reflected in teachers' daily lesson plans. As with all things that are truly organic, the guides have a definite life span and as such are expected to undergo both subtle and noticeable changes and improvements over time.
The Office of Curriculum, Assessment, & Professional Development, K-12 has conducted a revision of the four core curricular areas: reading/English, mathematics, science, and social studies. We began with curriculum 'maps' where teachers throughout the district have described their current practice. We then imposed a structure for curriculum guides that are aligned and coordinated through the K-12 grades with the PA Academic Standards.
We used the Phi Delta Kappa-Curriculum Management Systems, Inc. Curriculum Guide Analysis and Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning as our curriculum's structural supports. We adopted a pacing guide with regularly scheduled assessment periods and opportunities for re-teaching and enrichment. A core group of dedicated teachers have worked in teams since March to construct the scope and sequence for each subject, structure the curriculum templates, create assessment activities, and review instructional resource materials. Also, the Math & Science Partnership of Greater Philadelphia partnered with the district to provide two facilitators for the secondary math teams.
The core curriculum guides were approved by the Board of School Directors in July, 2007. Teachers received in-servicing on the content and implementation of the curriculum, and new instructional materials were purchased for the start of the 2007 - 2008 school year. Following the initial year of implementation, curriculum embedded assessments are administered quarterly to provide clear alignment between the written, taught and tested curriculum.
Dr. Monica Watson