Curriculum Development For School Improvement

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Curriculums have been around for a long time with its roots in the chariot tracks of Greece. With so much emphasis being placed on higher learning, school officials had to redesign their curriculum to meet the higher standards. This paper discusses the political occurrences that influenced curriculum, legislature that change curriculum in special education, politics, Ell's and SIOP, and how gifted students are pushed aside because of NCLB.

Curriculum History Planning

The culture of curriculum dates back to the mid 1500's. Its Latin origin means a course, or path, of life (curriculum vitae), instead of a racetrack around which chariots sped (OED on line, 2005); the word and concept of curriculum have been embedded in a protestant, bourgeois, commercial/capitalist culture (Doll, 2008). In 1918, John Franklin Bobbitt said that curriculum, as an idea, has its roots in the Latin word for racecourse, explaining the curriculum as the course of deeds and experiences through which children become the adults they should be, for success in adult society (Wikipedia, 2011). Curriculum can be defined many ways such as: (1) "such permanent" subjects as grammar, reading, logic, rhetoric, mathematics, and the greatest books of the Western world that best embody essential knowledge, (2) curriculum is those subjects that are most useful for living in contemporary society, (3) curriculum is all the experiences learners have under the guidance of the school, and (4) curriculum is the totality of learning experiences provided to students so that they can attain general skills and knowledge at a variety of learning sites (Marsh, & Willis, 2003). With so many interpretations of curriculum, it can get confusing for many. If we try to define curriculum in a broad sense we might say it is the student taking a set of approved courses in order to graduate. A teacher might define curriculum as the subjects students take to pass his or her class. In the USA, we have no national standardized curriculum. The states have the freedom to create their own curriculum under federal regulation. Curriculum is affected by historical precedents, which are most influential in some communities than others; by prevailing philosophical beliefs, the nature of the greatly expanding disciplines, the impact of social, political, and economic influences; by research inhuman growth and learning; and by individual learner himself (Cook & Doll, as cited by Wikibooks, 2010). In 1983 A Nation at Risk

stunned America with its report that America is failing as educators. There was not much to curriculum development; mostly curriculum development was typically reduced to the process of selecting textbooks (Hunt, 2008). The report had awakened America that change had to be done. This change led to politicians, business leaders, community members, state and local districts, supervisors, teachers and administrators all weighing on how to change the educational system to be in line with the recommendations of the report. This report ultimately led to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2002. The NCLB focuses heavily on using reading and mathematics test scores to determine whether schools are making progress in reducing achievement gaps among various subgroups (Catelli, 2006). The problem Catelli (2006) sees is by focusing on math and reading the curriculum the schools will narrow their curriculum to focus on math and reading. According to Catelli (2006) many leaders are well aware of the curriculum imbalance resulting from NCLB's test focused approach; however, they are understandably fearful of seeing their schools labeled as failing, but also of jeopardizing funding and public support. Within the last 10 years curriculum legislation has changed the way we look at students with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 97) focused more attention to students who were disabled or needy. As mainstreaming grew in popularity the physical integration of special education students into the general education improved, though little change was seen how instruction was delivered (Abell & Bauder & Simmons, 2005). According to Abell, et.al, (2005) students were still presented with the same curriculum and teachers still taught the same way, however the special education teacher working in the corner of the classroom had to modify or explain the content being covered in class. The improving Education Results for Children With disabilities Act (2003) proposes that teacher preparation programs train both general and special education teachers to serve students with disabilities (Abell et al., 2005). According to Abell, et, al, (2005) this would allow general education teachers to experience and master remedial skills and strategies while working with a new student population that could benefit from a solid core curriculum expert. In a school committed to the learning of all students, there is no reason to create a different curriculum for students with learning disabilities, with the obvious exception of ESL students (Danielson, 2002 p.102). We can ask the question, should curriculum be influenced by legislation, politics, or international events?

Children with disabilities can now get the same education rights as all students because of legislation. Steller, (2003), describes politics in an active community is like treading water in a hurricane while wearing concrete boots. In the present educational scene, political action is the vogue; from outright lobbying to incidental persuasion, a schools district's curriculum is politically manipulated (Steller, 2003). According to Steller (2003) unchecked political intervention from non-education, sources can threaten the quality of educational programs, however on the other hand, learning the political ropes can enhance the educators ability to strengthen with more vigor to political demands that to true educational needs.

The Urban Institute researchers reported in 2005 that "the Limited English population in the United States grew by 52 percent between 1990 and 2000-from 14.0 million to 21.3 million" (Honigsfield,p.167 as cited by Schielke, 2011). This report has led to concerns about the education of English language learners (ELLs). Over the last 40 years, U.S. English language education has been shaped by a variety of legal and legislative decisions (NCTE, 2008). In 1968, the Bilingual Education Act (Title VII) acknowledged the educational challenges faced by ELLs and allocated funds to support their learning (NCTE, 2008). In 2002 the English Language Acquisition, language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act (title III of NCLB) replaced the Bilingual Education Act (NCTE, 2008). Because of the growing number of ELL's the curriculum in schools had to change. The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model id a research based and validated instructional model that has proven effective in addressing the academic needs of English learners throughout the United States (CAL, 2010). Research shows that when teachers fully implement the SIOP Model English learners' academic performance improves (CAL, 2010). The model was developed by researchers at California State University along with the Center for Applied Linguistics; it consists of eight interrelated components: (1) Lesson Preparation, (2) Building Background, (3) Comprehensible Input, (4) Strategies, (5) Interaction, (6) Practice/Application, (7) Lesson Delivery, and (8) Review Assessment. (CAL, 2010).

Curriculum development has had a big impact on gifted children. This impact has done little to help gifted children. The focus of NCLB is to increase the level of achievement in schools so that every student is meeting grade level requirements (Bainbridge, 2011). However, gifted students are at grade level or are working above that level. According to Bainbridge, (2011) many schools claim that the funding provided for meeting the requirements set forth by NCLB is insufficient so there is even less money than before to use on gifted education. Many schools have already cut or curtailed programs for the gifted along with courses in the arts, physical education, and other non-tested areas (Schielke, 2011). If we continued to rely on test scores for funding gifted students will suffer. Schools need to build curriculums that are tailored to all students and not a one model fits all, because it clearly does not for gifted students.

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