Standardized School Curriculum To Achieve Good Results Education Essay

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This research study significantly brings those factors in to consideration which is important for standardization of Curriculum in Private schools, which may affect the results and assessment criteria of students in a positive manner.

1.1 What is curriculum?

Defining the word curriculum is no easy matter. Perhaps the most common definition derives from the word's Latin root, which means 'racecourse'. Indeed, for many students, the school curriculum is a race to be run, a series of obstacles or hurdles (subjects) to be passed In the 1970s Pinar (1974) produced a different term, 'currere' - the Latin infinitive of curriculum, because he wanted to highlight the running (or lived experience). He has subsequently elaborated on this term (Pinar et al., 1995; Pinar, 2004) and has emphasized its value in self-study via an autobiographical method.

Some Definitions of Curriculum:

"Curriculum is those subjects that are most useful for living in contemporary society."

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The subjects that make up this curriculum are usually chosen in terms of major present-day issues and problems within society, but the definition itself does not preclude individual students from making their own choices about which subjects are most useful.

According to Rothstein, Wilder and Jacobsen (2007) a balanced curriculum should be concerned about contemporary living skills such as critical thinking, project-based learning and social skills.

Wilson (2002) argues that curriculum must include higher-order skills such as teaching students to think critically and to communicate complex ideas clearly.

Oliva (1997) also points out that definitions of curriculum can be conceived in narrow or broad ways. He suggests that differences in the substance of definitions of curriculum are largely due to whether the emphasis is upon:

• purposes of goals of the curriculum (for example a curriculum is to develop reflective thinking);

• Contexts within which the curriculum is found (for example a curriculum is to develop the individual learner in all aspects of growth); or

• Strategies used throughout the curriculum (for example a curriculum is to develop problem solving processes).

Another definition of curriculum is "Curriculum is what the student constructs from working with the computer and its various networks, such as the Internet."

Obviously, this is a modern definition. It assumes that computers are every-where - in the home, school and office - and students, perceiving them as part of the natural landscape, are thriving. Advocates argue that the new computing technologies have created a culture for increasingly active learning; students can construct their own meanings as they locate sources on the Internet, explore issues and communicate with others. Social skills are also developed through chat groups, conferences and e-mail communications.

Characteristics of Curriculum:

Some curriculum experts, such as Goodlad (1979), contend that an analysis of definitions is a useful starting point for examining the field of curriculum. Other writers argue that there are important concepts or characteristics that need to be considered and which give some insights into how particular value orientations have evolved and why (Westbury, 2007).

Walker (2003) argues that the fundamental concepts of curriculum include:

• Content: It may be depicted in terms of concept maps, topics and themes, all of which are abstractions which people have invested and named;

• Purpose: usually categorized as intellectual, social and personal; often divided into super ordinate purposes; stated purposes are not always reliable indicators of actions;

• Organization: planning is based upon scope and sequence (order of presence over time); and can be tightly organized or relatively open-ended.

Other writers such as Beane (2001) produce principles of curriculum but they are more value oriented and less generic. For example, he lists five major principles about curriculum:

• Concern with the experiences of learners;

• making decisions about both content and process;

• making decisions about a variety of issues and topics;

• involving many groups;

• Decision-making at many levels.

Who sets Curriculum:

Curriculum workers are many and include school-based personnel such as teachers, principals and parents and university-based specialists, industry and community groups, and government agencies and politicians. A large number of those working in the curriculum field are involved in serving the daily and technical needs of those who work in schools. This has been the traditional role over the decades where the focus has been upon curriculum development for school contexts. Pinar et al. (1995) refer to the 'shifting domain of curriculum development as politicians, textbook companies, and subject-matter specialists in the university, rather than school practitioners and university professors of curriculum, exercise leadership and control over curriculum development' (p. 41). In a later publication, Pinar (2004) argues that 'public school teachers have been reduced to domestic workers instructed by politicians' (p. xi) and that 'education professors are losing have lost control of the curriculum we teach' (p xi).

1.2 Standardizing Curriculum:

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In my research study, my major focus is to bring standardized curriculum in to light, that how it positively or negatively impacts on students behavior while how it also affects teachers' mode of student assessment and result evaluation. In my opinion, standardizing of education & curriculum shall greatly help in true assessment of students in every private school. In this regard, Marzano (2002) contends that the curriculum must be general, liberal and equal for all, regardless of any the student experiences at home. Adler (1982) goes to the point of introducing the Paideia Curriculum. This curriculum is designed to teach students through lecturing, coaching and enlightenment. The courses are restricted to those critically needed to obtain the outcomes described in the Paideia Curriculum. All other courses and subjects will be replaced with these requirements, as this type of restriction does not allow enough time in the K-12 calendar to have any specialized interest classes. Adler contends that this type of defined structure will allow for the best general education that is possible for our future leaders.

Holt (1974) contends that our students should have the freedom to select what they want to learn and how they want to learn it. He further explains that the specialized classes are what motivate children to learn effectively. In fact, Holt states that children's right to select their own education pathway is the basis of a democratic society. Holt suggests that a child will, in most cases, choose to go to school if the parents have expressed a strong desire and wish that the child attend. He states that the children will try to please their parents and it projects that children will be excited to attend a school that holds their interest, where the feel comfortable learning, and where they are not judged continuously but rather encouraged.

Marzano's (2002) solution of some portion of standard education, and some portion of electives and specialization offers a balance to students to ensure a basic understanding of a liberal arts education while allowing creativity and real-life application. Being that each student is slightly different, they should each have an opportunity to select some courses specific to their interests, while learning what educators determine as being essential.

The literature above delineates how standardized and centralized curriculum in all private schools shall help in determining the true assessment techniques and result evaluation of students. As Marzano said, students should be given a choice to select their own subjects at certain level. But in my opinion this choice shall bring a difference in course outline for students, hence a limited number of option shall be given to be opted by the students positively. Holt also maintains the same kind of approach and suggest that students should be given freedom of choice in their subjects.

1.3 curriculum reforms in Pakistan:

In Pakistan, curriculum, syllabus, planning, policy, centers of excellence and standards of education are on the concurrent list of the Constitution of Pakistan. The Federal Ministry of Education has been empowered through the Federal Supervision of Curricula, Textbooks and Maintenance of Standards of Education Act, 1976 to supervise curricula, textbooks and other learning materials as well as to maintain standards of education.

In 2000 the Ministry of Education undertook a revision for Basic Science subjects and in 2002 for Social Science subjects. In 2003, the Government announced its intention as part of the Education Sector Reforms (ESR) Action Plan 2001-2005/6 to undertake a comprehensive revision of the curriculum after every 5 years. Curriculum revision was to be an institutionalized process of evaluation and development as iterative and concurrent.

The newly elected government in August 2004, launched the national education policy reform process (NEPR), the National Education Census (NEC) and expedited a comprehensive review of school curricula in 2005. According to sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Federal Supervision of Curricula Textbooks and Maintenance of Standards of Education Act 1976, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is charged with curriculum revision in all subjects for grade XII upwards. HEC reviews its curriculum every three years as agreed in its 44th Vice Chancellors' Committee in 2001.

In 2005, the Curriculum Wing's human resource capacity was expanded and two teams of 3 experts each were added as the 'National Curriculum Council to cover Basic Science and Social Science subjects to review, update and upgrade the National

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Curriculum from Early Childhood Education to Higher Secondary School level'( Majeed, 2009). The Curriculum Wing undertook comparative reviews of curriculum reforms in different countries7. It reviewed the scheme of studies, followed by the revision of curricula for 25 core subjects (classes I to XII) (annex), which were notified in 2006. The review of remaining subjects as listed in the scheme of studies shall continue until 2009 (NEP, Aug. 1, 2009). Elaborate stakeholder consultations were held 'with teachers, administrators, educationists, curriculum experts and students including field visits training of working teams through workshops and seminars; reviews of drafts by subject experts and working teachers leading to refinement of contents and preparation of a uniform curriculum format'. These comprised standards, benchmarks and learning outcomes as vital parts of the curriculum development-process'. (Majeed, A. 2009 p. 2).

The key features of the National Curriculum 2006/7 are as follows:

- Standards and competencies driven

- Learning objectives correspond to students' learning outcomes (SLOs)

- Progressive approaches for primary, middle, secondary and tertiary stages of learning

- Life skills are integrated across subjects

- Vertical and horizontal connections are ensured

- focus on promoting creative writing and analytical thinking for learners rather than rote learning

- Detailed guidelines have been provided in the curriculum for textbook writers and teachers for delivery of the curriculum effectively.

- Guidelines have been provided for assessment and evaluation in addition to the learning outcomes specified in the Curriculum. (ibid. pp.5-6)

From the above literature it is evident, in previous years; many curriculum reforms were brought in to implementation by the government in schools and colleges at different regional levels. But no reforms could bring a unique criterion of evaluating students on similar grounds. Proper evaluation technique and standardized curriculum has yet been so far in the last few decades of history of Pakistan's education system. More focus was given to learning objectives while skill sharpening was an important principle in educational and curriculum reforms. But standardized curriculum had been ignored in the last decade reform structure. And even in previous reforms before 2000, no consideration was given to centralization of curriculum and syllabus structure.

1.4 STANDARD CURRICULUM IN INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT:

Being important to be discussed to make a comparative analysis of local curriculum and international curriculum, the following literature with an international perspective focusing UK's national education standard has been included in this research thesis.

The National Curriculum in UK:

It is an interesting case study of introducing subject-based national curriculum in British schools where no such curriculum existed before. Ball and Bowie (1992) studied the implementation of the National Curriculum in England and Wales. This study illuminates important issues in top-down strategies. The authors examined policy implementation in three secondary schools and one tertiary college. These two academics from universities reported on the basis of data obtained through interviews. Their report includes policy implementation at department level, on subject areas (mainly science, math and English), effects on context, student assessment, teacher professionalism and the management of curriculum.

These sociologists found that the curriculum was not being implemented: it was being produced and reproduced down the hierarchy. They report a significant gap amongst the intended policies, actual policies and policies-in-use. They found the whole implemented curriculum varied with regards to cross-curricular links, due to lack of time on the part of the senior management to operationalise policy and due to conflicting messages coming from the various departments of the government. On subject level teachers were owning and contextualizing curriculum in different ways. Mostly variations occurred in the interpretation of policy and in planning. Learning and changes occurred within existing practices. The NC fitted established practices easily. Implementation was a matter of accommodation and containment.

Teachers' responses to testing were unfavorable. According to the authors, "many teachers have expressed considerable concern about any system of assessment that leans strongly towards testing rather than assessment paradigm"(p.107). Teachers felt that they were not doing professional jobs. They were technicians implementing ideas from the top. They talked about the changes they were making, about the fast pace of change and about the lack of resources to affect change. The authors reported:

On one hand many teachers feel that the national curriculum is asking them to do many things they were already doing, while assuming they were not. On the other they consider it is asking them to do things that simply cannot be done within the constraints within which they must operate (p.109).

There was no direct relationship between levels of funding and changes that schools were required to make; NC was implemented in a period when spending on schools was declining and market related staffing had produced subject hierarchy. Departments suffered from additional workload, additional problems not of teacher making.

According to this study the patterns of problems and responses varied between schools and departments. Authors attributed this to the shifting debate on curriculum within the departments of the state and to variations in the context of schools comprised of skills and experiences of teachers; contingencies /perceived constraints; commitment and readiness for change. For me as a consultant in curriculum development this project illustrates the problem of linking the planned curriculum with the operational one. However, The authors of this go beyond it. They claim that curriculum mutated at each level of the hierarchy.

The literature above clearly shows that recent planning and development techniques in UK regarding the curriculum restructuring not only shows a deep and grave concern of government's efforts to nationalize and standardized the syllabus and curriculum of the schools and colleges but also maintain a national decorum of educational system and multi dimensional teaching techniques and knowledge impartment. The case study above shows that to some extent UK's national Education system has benefited the schools and colleges and evaluation and assessment criteria of students, by making it standardized all over the state.

1.5 CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT PROCESS:

Problem identification and general needs assessment

The most important step is the first one, the general needs assessment (GNA). The goal of step 1 is to focus the curriculum, by defining the deficits in knowledge, attitude, or skills that currently exist in practitioners and the ideal approach to teaching and learning these objectives. When completed, the GNA makes a strong argument for the need for the curriculum and identifies potential educational research questions.

Research for this step can extend over many fields of endeavor: public health and epidemiology, health care systems, utilization and resources, emerging knowledge of disease, patient support groups, and educational theory and practice.

A well-researched step 1 impacts steps beyond the learner objectives by identifying educational methodologies, faculty development resources, potential funding resources, and opportunities for dissemination of the curriculum.

Identification and critical analysis of the health care problem that will be addressed by the curriculum requires substantial research to analyze what is currently being done by practitioners and educators, i.e., the current approach, and ideally what should be done by practitioners and educators to address the health care problem, i.e., the ideal approach. The general needs assessment is usually stated as the knowledge, attitude, and performance deficits that the curriculum will address.

Needs assessment of targeted learners

The general needs assessment is applied to targeted learners. What kind of doctor do we want to educate it depends mostly on social needs but it can reflect job opportunities, financial rewards and attitudes acquired during process of studding. Sometimes it is very difficult to make balance between these several needs. Needs can be obtained on different ways. It can be done through study of errors in practice. It is very difficult to design curriculum which will fully meet the needs of society and students. Following picture present the relation between needs of different subjects.

Expectations of society from graduate students are view from one perspective. For example, according to the European Qualifications Framework graduate students should possess following performances:

The descriptors

Knowledge and understanding

Application of knowledge and understanding

Ability to making judgments

Ability to communicate

Learning skills

Level depending on the cycle

If we ask students what they expect from their knowledge after graduation we will probably get another list of expectations.

Curriculum of medical faculties must be designed on the way which can provide performances after the student graduation asked from society but from student as well.

Goals and objectives

Institution should define overall goals and aims for the curriculum. Specific measurable knowledge, skill/ performance, attitude, and process objectives should be stated for the curriculum.

Learning goals and outputs for every course and subject should be compatible with mission of institution. It means that achieving of learning goals of different subjects and courses will lead to reaching mission of institution at the end of student studding process. Planning of new curriculum and reform of old one asks for defining of philosophy which is ` behind ` the curriculum and all its elements. Learning goal and outputs should also determinate the educational philosophy and institutional culture. So, mission of institution, educational philosophy and institutional culture are key elements of educational settings necessary for curriculum implementation.

An aim indicates the direction or orientation of a course in terms of its content. An aim is written in terms of level, teaching intentions and management of learning. The aims of the course encapsulate the purpose of the course and what the institution trying to do in providing the course. Aims are therefore more about teaching and the management of learning.

Educational strategies

It is necessary to make a plan how to maximize the impact of the curriculum, which content should be included, how content should be organized and with which educational methods, how elements of curriculum should communicate, what kind of educational environment and climate should be developed. Content which is included must provide to student critical thinking. It must be selected and organized on the way to initiate critical approach to facts and development skill of information retrieval.

Document with the objectives, should be prepared in advance. Content of certain courses should provide better understanding of other subject, for example anatomy and physiology, radiology and anatomy etc. Position of each course is one of the aspects which should be analyzed. Mostly at the first study years basic sciences are taught and they provide continuation of studying with clinical subjects. Some models of curricula prescribe modules as organizational unit which includes knowledge starting from basic science and anatomy and physiology till patho-physiology, clinical diagnostic and treatment. New trends in modern education show signs of introducing an early contact of students and patients in the curriculum, and thus courses such as introduction in clinical practice have among the others the best possible preparation of medical students for studying clinical subjects etc.

Implementation

A plan for implementation, including timelines and resources required, should be created. A plan for faculty development is made to assure consistent implementation.

Management of curriculum implementation 

Clear responsibility of certain bodies, comities and individuals should be one of key elements in the process of curriculum implementation. Role of the students in process of curriculum management should be clearly defined. The committee for coordination among courses in order to synchronize objectives of courses and overall curriculum should be established. Clear feedback on customer requests should be defined.