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Curriculum Support

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Submitted By allevier
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Part I. The curriculum approach that closely adheres to my current school district lies within the Systematic model. Although my school district contains similarities from some of the other models, the idea of "systems" is the most suitable term for my curriculum's foundation. The education model in this entire state has been in reform for quite some time and we can only anticipate more change in the upcoming months. Our great nation still thrives as a powerful country today because of its systematically structured business model. Needless to say, this approach seems to be the most attractive curriculum model when it comes to the viewpoints of the stakeholders. The curricular goals are also equivalent to the framework of a business. Ultimately, the flaws are fixed by the building of efficient "systems" that seek to eliminate any and all problems. The only difference among school districts and state education departments are the methods used to solve the problems in what they call a "proficient" manner. In other words, "Fix whatever is broken, then move on to the next!" South Point School District matches the Systematic Curriculum in that it replicates a business, the curriculum seeks to include input from the communities, and its focus on effective teacher training. To begin with, my school district operates much like any other monopoly. To achieve this systematic way of thinking, our curriculum's emphasis is heavily based upon the measurements of student achievement. Standardized testing is considered "high stakes" in some grade levels here since it determines whether a student is promoted or retained. To curriculum makers, these tests seem to offer straightforward solutions that target student performance along with student success. Many administrators do not object to this view simply because business models are quite familiar to them. It offers a concrete foundation that is fairly uncomplicated and offers consistency. It also uses a "number system" to guide the decision making process in the curriculum. One of the most familiar examples of systems within the curriculum is the enactment of the No Child Left Behind law that was passed in 2002. Bush's goal for NCLB was to prepare students to surpass competition within the global domain. "To achieve this goal , the authors of NCLB argued for what they refer to as 'scientifically-based research'" (Null, 2011, p. 38). According to the legislation, schools are required to pass yearly tests that will judge how much improvement the students have made over the fiscal year. These yearly standardized tests are the main means of determining whether schools are living up to the standards that they are required to meet. If the required improvements are not made, the schools face decreased funding and other punishments that contribute to the increased accountability. The act also requires states to provide "highly qualified" teachers to all students. Each state sets its own standards for what counts as "highly qualified". Similarly, the act requires states to set "one high, challenging standard" for its students. Each state decides for itself what counts as "one high, challenging standard," but the curriculum standards must be applied to all students, rather than having different standards for students in different cities or other parts of the state. Another reason that South Point School District matches the Systematic model is because the curriculum seeks to include input from the communities. When context from local communities are used in the curriculum, the information seems familiar as well as relevant. Our school district has implemented several additional curriculum standards based on events and/or history that are significant to this area. Although we know that standardized testing is strictly based on certain GLEs, there are some questions on the state test that focus on primary information about Louisiana. As educators, we are actually told that we must teach at least one unit about the historical influences of Louisiana in addition to the regular curriculum. Of course, the extra workload is a bit challenging. Since I love Louisiana history, I do not have a problem with incorporating additional information into my instruction. Unfortunately, not all teachers feel the same way. An advocate for a community based curriculum was Professor John Franklin Bobbitt. He was inspired to become a curriculum expert (Null, 2011) with an influence from both the business and economics aspects. Therefore, he became known as a systematic thinker. He also became a representative for societal studies. He felt that the curriculum was a way to prepare students for their future roles in the new industrial society. He influenced the curriculum by showing how teaching classical subjects should be replaced by teaching subjects that correspond to social needs. He made this point evident in 1918, when he wrote The Curriculum. This book actually introduced teachers to the "systems" approach. One last reason that South Point School District closely adheres to the Systematic Curriculum is the way they choose to train teachers on effectiveness. During the summer and at various times during the school year, teachers are sent to professional development classes. These classes are meant to either introduce new information or re-enforce previous concepts. South Point definitely mimics the systematic views when train their teachers. Implementing systematic training for effective teaching also involves many other activities, including distributing and explaining materials to educators, obtaining feedback from support groups, preparing and giving tests, and conducting multiple evaluations. These activities are designed to get the most out of educators as well as the school. Professor Werrett Wallace Charters, much like Bobbitt, displayed a systematic way of thinking. The only difference is that Charters chose to focus on teachers rather than just the curriculum. "Wallace took Bobbitt's activity analysis method and applied it to the profession of teaching" (Null, 2011, p.51). This was known as Charters' most significant contribution to the field of curriculum development. Activity analysis essentially involved specification of the discrete tasks or activities involved in any social activity. For purposes of curriculum construction, the resulting specifications translated into program objectives. Activity analysis was considered a "scientific" approach to curriculum construction because it represented a quantification of human activities as a basis for selecting educational objectives.

Part II. South Point School District could improve its academic effectiveness if it would consider a Deliberative Curriculum. The two commonplaces that my district should focus on are William A. Reid's curriculum making strategies and Joseph Schwab's perspective on subject matter. Since deliberating means finding common grounds, Reid asks others to contribute to the formation of the curriculum making process by simply contemplating the "real" need for reform. "He challenges readers to reflect on the nature of curriculum problems so that we avoid basing our curriculum work on flawed assumptions that harm curriculum rather than improve it" (Null, 2011, p.151). Deliberators should seek to resolve issues by listening to find agreement and/or meaning. Reid also feels curriculum making issues are easily resolved when large numbers of groups "deliberate" together and provide the best logical input possible. This would enhance student achievement in our school because it allows everyone to have a voice in the construction of the curriculum before the proposed final product is composed. Reid also recognizes the fact that many other models have relied upon empirical studies for a long time. He sought out to change that notion because the answer to revamping a curriculum cannot be solved by research alone. Instead, he persuasively makes a case to join theory to practice with the hope of discovering practical reasoning. Thus, the marriage of theory and practice create a bond that leads to endless possibilities in education. My school district should actually have more conversations with classroom teachers as they are constructing our curriculum. Joseph Schwab's perspective on "subject matter" profoundly defines the deliberative process. Deliberation, in its colloquial sense, simply means the act of "pondering" or "stopping to think." But as Schwab uses the term, it designates (Null, 2011) the method of the practical. The need for deliberation, that which distinguishes it from the merely technical or procedural, arises from the fact that we must make decisions. Often times it involves important moral considerations about what to do in some particular situation in the light of inadequate evidence. This would also enhance student learning within the schools of our district because during deliberation, a rich fund of knowledge will reveal itself in numerous ways: * how a student frames a problem * searches for related information * uses reference materials and databases * seeks diverse viewpoints * judges the strength of arguments * interprets charts and primary documents * adjudicates competing interpretations * weighs alternative courses of action.
"Studies of experts at work reveal the almost seamless interaction of substantive knowledge and problem-solving abilities" (Wineburg, 1991, p.76). Of course, the possession of such knowledge does not guarantee its deft application, but certainly no application is possible without it. Schwab also carefully notes that subject matter specialists must recognize that their knowledge is almost always theoretic (Null, 2011). This means that it has to be translated deliberatively before it becomes an official part of the curriculum. He emphasizes the need for specialists to spend extra with the subject matter so that it is most appropriate to suit the needs of the learners. For example, with respect to courses like history, if specialists are formulating a curriculum for a class, it must include "useable" (Null, 2011) content. After conclusively evaluating the pros and cons of a possible alternate curriculum, the Deliberative Model would best suit the needs of South Point School District. The works of William Reid and Joseph Schwab provide sufficient evidence to uphold my decision. Schwab made his choice on moral grounds. It stemmed from his vision of what a democratic society should be; other choices about the theory-practice relationship would have been inconsistent with this vision. If he had accepted the usual view that practice can be derived from theory, then who really would determine what are appropriate practices? The experts who control the theory would control the practice. Important social decisions, including curriculum, are too important to be left to experts. Not only do experts have their own kinds of biases, they usually have no personal knowledge of, no individual concern for, nor any moral connection with those whom their decisions will affect.

Bibliography:

Null, W. (2011). Curriculum: From theory to practice. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Wineburg, S. (1991). Historical Problem Solving: A Study of the Cognitive Processes Used in the Evaluation of Documentary and Pictorial Evidence. Journal of Educational Psychology,83, 73-85.

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[ 1 ]. South Park School District is not the actual name of my employer or my school district. It is a fictitious name, but the comparisons made by the use of Null's model are accurate based upon my experience.
[ 2 ]. In Louisiana, standards are known as GLE(s), which means Grade Level Expectations.…...

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