Curriculum Frameworks In The Subject Areas Of English Education Essay

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California uses defined content standards and curriculum frameworks in the subject areas of English-language arts, mathematics, history-social science, science, and visual and performing arts. In the upper grade levels, content standards and curriculum framework are also in place regarding the teaching of technical studies. A bibliographic reference list of California's state standards is included below.

California Board of Education. (2002). Health Framework for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/documents/healthfw.pdf

California Board of Education. (2005). History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/documents/histsocsciframe.pdf

California Board of Education. (December 1997). English-Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/elacontentstnds.pdf

California Board of Education. (December 1997). English Language Development Content Standards for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/englangdevstnd.pdf

California Board of Education. (December 1997). ESTÁNDARES ACADÉMICOS PARA EL DESARROLLO DELA LENGUA INGLESA [English Language Development, Spanish Version]. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/eldspan.pdf

California Board of Education. (December 1997). Mathematics Content Standards for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/mathstandard.pdf

California Board of Education. (October 1998). Historical-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/histsocscistnd.pdf

California Board of Education. (October 1998). Science Content Standards for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/sciencestnd.pdf

California Board of Education. (January 2001). Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/sciencestnd.pdf

California Board of Education. (May 2001). Foreign Language Framework for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/documents/foreignlangfrmwrk.pdf

California Board of Education. (January 2004). Visual and Performing Arts Framework for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/documents/vpaframewrk.pdf

California Board of Education. (March 2004). Science Framework for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/documents/scienceframework.pdf

California Board of Education. (January 2005). Physical Education Model Content Standards for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/mathstandard.pdf

California Board of Education. (March 2005). Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/ma/cf/documents/mathfrwkcomplete.pdf

California Board of Education. (May 2005). California Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards; Grades Seven Through Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/ct/sf/documents/ctestandards.pdf

California Board of Education. (April 2006). Reading/Language Arts Framework for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/documents/rlafw.pdf

California Board of Education. (January 2007). California Career Technical Education Framework; Grades Seven Through Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/ct/sf/documents/cteframework.pdf

California Board of Education. (March 2008). Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/healthstandmar08.pdf

California Board of Education. (September 2008). Physical Education Framework for California Public Schools; Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/documents/2009peframework.pdf

Legislative Council of California (June 1, 2009). California Law: California Education Code. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/calawquery?codesection=edc&codebody=&hits=20

The State Standards Documents

Considering the curricular area of Health Education, different documents can be compared. The Content Standards document for Health Education was published in March 2008, when the standards contained in the document were adopted by the California Board of Education. The document is a 71-page PDF, which is freely available online. A printed version is also available to order from the California Department of Education. In the online version, simply scrolling through the PDF file on-screen is an effective navigation mode through the document. The document is logically laid out, and easy to follow.

Eight separate standards are defined for each grade level from Kindergarten through Eighth Grade (Grades 7 and 8 are grouped together for many of the standards). These standards are posited in relation to concepts, communication, influences, decisions, goals, and behaviors. Some of these standards do not apply to the lower grades. These standards are, generally, organized by grade level rather than by content area; although some more grade or development-specific subject areas of health studies (e.g. sexual development) are discussed only with reference to the upper grade levels.

The Content Standards are clear and helpful to teachers in terms of the vertical structure of how a subject area should be approached throughout the school system and grade structure. However, the objectives and standards contained are rather vague, and could leave a teacher wondering how to teach the required Content Standards. This is where the Curriculum Framework document becomes a valuable resource.

The Health Studies Curriculum Framework is a full-sized book, at 264 pages in a PDF file which is freely available online. In contrast to the Content Standards, the Curriculum Framework suggests actual areas of content to be taught at respective grade levels. Chapters concerning "The Vision", or the educational reasoning behind those Content Standards and Curriculum Frameworks adopted by the California Department of Education, provide a research-based theoretical background to the framework.

The Health Studies Curriculum Framework is well-structured, but a little cumbersome to navigate through in its online version. There is no way to click through to a specific chapter or section of the book via the contents page, and so the only way to access a specific section of the book is to scroll throughout the document. This can become time-consuming. Overall, however, the Curriculum Framework is helpful in clarifying the practical educational application of the theoretical standards laid out in the Content Standards document.

Both the Curriculum Framework and the Contents Standards documents have their genesis, and codification, in California Law. The California Education Code, which is available entirely online and linked from the California Department of Education website, is a huge document. It is made more manageable by being accessed via a hyperlinked table of contents which directs the reader straight to the section of the law clicked on from the title page. This document is arranged by legal area rather than by subject or grade area, and therefore could be more difficult for teachers to navigate and find the information they need. For example, a teacher concerned with Health Studies may need to access a large number of sections of the California Education Code - from hazing laws to attendance policy to teacher certification standards. It is difficult for a teacher to get an overview of the legal requirements from this document, and that is perhaps a reason why the Content Standards and Curriculum Framework documents have been created: to interpret the legal standards and aid educators in their practical implementation.

Connections

The California Department of Education provides two key categories of documents regarding state education standards, and together with California's legal framework regarding education, there are three divisions of state standards documents. Firstly are the Content Standards documents, which were designed by the Department of Education in order to "encourage the highest achievement of every student, by defining the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire at each grade level." (California Department of Education). The Content Standards delineate what, in each subject area, students in each of the grades would be expected to know and/or be in the process of learning.

The Content Standards often have their basis in California Law. For example, the Health Content Standards were adopted pursuant to Assembly Bill 689, signed into law in October 2005 as Section 51210.8 of the California Education Code. This Assembly Bill was cosponsored by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, who recommended the adoption of such content standards in the area of health education. These standards, in action, both direct and shape the standard, quality and focus of health education received by students in California's public schools. In the realm of legal standards, the California Education Code is maintained by the Legislative Council of California, based on California Law, and is linked as an official resource from the California Department of Education website.

The third category of state standards is represented by the Curriculum Frameworks published by the California Department of Education. These frameworks provide, in each subject, guidance for teachers regarding how to implement the content standards which have been adopted in each subject area. These frameworks are created by the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission, a body which also recommends which textbooks and other instructional materials should be adopted in California's public schools. The Curriculum Frameworks give suggestions to teachers as to what materials and resources they may use, and what kind of educational structuring may be most helpful and appropriate, in delivering the educational requirements of the Content Standards.

Several notes regarding the various documents should be made. Firstly, there is often a delay between the adoption of the standards by the Department of Education, and the subsequent publication of these standards in a paper version. This may disadvantage those educators who prefer to deal with materials in a non-electronic format. This factor is also a consideration concerning those documents which are also published in Braille - to date, English-Language Arts Contents Standards and Mathematics Contents Standards. English Language Development Standards are also available in Spanish. While such inclusionary measures are to be lauded, their application seems haphazard, as only a small proportion of the Standards, and seemingly none of the Curriculum Framework or legal standards are available in such accessible or multilingual formats.

Overall, a teacher would use these three available types of document in order to ascertain what to teach and how, and also to have an understanding of the educational ideology or ideologies behind what is taught in California's public schools. In short, the three categories of state standards discussed above aim to answer three questions that teachers may have in any given subject area: why should this be taught; what should be taught; and how should it be taught? The legal documents maintained in California's Education Code answer the question as to why certain things should be taught, based on students' rights regarding what they need to know or learn in order to develop to their full potential. The Curriculum Standards define what should be taught in each subject, by prescribing the knowledge, skills and attainment which are to be expected at each grade level. The Curriculum Frameworks suggest how these levels of knowledge, skills and attainment should be taught, with suggestions for curriculum materials and resources.

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