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Alaska Department of Education & Early Development
How to Use the Framework
The Curriculum Development Process
What Curriculum Development Committees Can Do to Ensure Success
A curriculum framework is a
This document was written primarily to assist district curriculum development committees. These committees should include a diverse group of teachers, administrators, and community members. The committee members are encouraged to involve all interested educators and community members in an awareness of the process and issues, the development of the curriculum, and the continuous review and revision of the district's curriculum.
University preservice instructors are the secondary audience. Additionally, teachers, preservice students, board members, parents, support staff, and community members will find this valuable in their educational work.
Administrators should review the entire document, paying specific attention to the first two chapters, "How to Use the Framework" and "The Starting Point".
Curriculum development committees should read the first three chapters thoroughly for help designing their curriculum development process. They should then rely primarily on the chapters that address their focus content area with reference to the other content areas to provide integration and connections wherever possible.
Words that appear in bold in the text are defined in the glossary at the end of the document.
The Reference Kits are collections of reference books, articles, and tapes for curriculum development committee members. They contain excellent models and ideas for curriculum, instruction, assessment, and school change. Curriculum committees may borrow these kits and review the materials. They may choose to purchase from the publishers multiple copies of the materials they find most useful. In addition to copyrighted books and videotapes, the kits contain non-copyrighted, reproducible material.
Reference Kits will be loaned on an as-available basis to other interested parties for other purposes. They are particularly useful for professional development and preservice education. The contents of each Reference Kit are listed in the individual content area sections.
Your committe may contact the Department of Education & Early Development in Juneau, Alaska, and request to borrow Reference Kit.
In 1991, Alaska embarked on an educational reform effort, Alaska 2000, which paralleled the national America 2000 educational initiative, later known as Goals 2000. By 1995 this process resulted in the Alaska 2000 Standards in ten content areas. These standards enunciate what an Alaskan student should know, be able to do, and be committed to, and they are an important first step in raising the expectations of our education system.
The US Department of Education provided framework development grants. The Alaska Department of Education & Early Development applied for and received grants to create frameworks for each of the content areas of this document. Each content section was written by committees of educators and experts. These were reviewed and revised through multiple public mailings and meetings. The English/Language Arts, Social Studies, and Mathematics/Science Frameworks documents were completed in 1995. Arts and World Languages are scheduled for completion by 1996. No frameworks grants were offered for the content areas of Technology and Healthy Life Skills. While no frameworks are available to help Alaskan curriculum committees with these content areas, standards are listed in the Reference Point appendix of this document.
Goals 2000 assures "Unlike other Federal assistance,
Goals 2000 does not add another program to existing ones;
rather, it seeks to blend Federal, State, and local efforts into
a cohesive educational approach that will enable all children
to attain high standards of performance in the State's academic
subjects." Like Goals 2000, Alaska 2000's
standards and frameworks suggest not what districts, schools,
and teachers can do in addition to their current efforts,
but what they can do in place of the status quo.
In the past, curriculum development committees were typically composed of the teachers with expertise in the content area who were asked to create scope and sequence documents and to suggest texts and other resources for adoption by school districts. Our understanding of curriculum development has changed. The process is now viewed as an opportunity to develop understanding and ownership by the participants, and hence curriculum development committees include members of all parties with interests in the educational system. Identifying and sequencing the content can have a more positive effect on student achievement when it is combined with effective instructional and assessment strategies as well as a supportive school environment. Therefore, the job of curriculum development committees is more extensive than in the past. Curriculum development committees must research effective practices in order to support school environments that offer rich and varied learning experiences. They must review policies and behaviors that foster community involvement and equitable opportunities for all. They must consider professional development activities to support the content, instruction, and assessment expectations. The expectations of curriculum development committees cross some boundaries into what were previously defined as administrative roles. While some curriculum development committees might not have the time, resources, or power to assume all of these roles, they can consider the importance of each of the issues raised in this document and delegate related responsibilities to others who can effect these changes.
Although the curriculum development process results in a curriculum document, an equally important outcome is the involvement of teachers and community members in the process. Teachers, parents, and community members who have contributed to the process will be willing participants in the implementation of the curriculum. Curriculum should be revised not only to address new research findings and the resulting new visions, but also to involve new participants in those visions. Each Alaska school district has its own curriculum development process. This variation notwithstanding, all curriculum plans must be based on a planned cycle of renewal of no longer than six year's duration. (See the Alaska School Curriculum Regulations in the Reference Points appendix of this document.) Districts should study this state framework document and begin a process that will prepare their curriculum development committees to address the Alaska content standards in their next revision cycle.
The following curriculum development process provides step-by-step suggestions for organizing the work of your curriculum development committee. Your committee may choose a different process although it should contain these basic components.
A. Create a Functional and Collaborative Process.
|District Curriculum Coordinator||Teachers|
|District Assessment Specialists||Content Specialists|
|Business Representatives||University Faculty|
School Board Members, who can
Superintendents, who can
Curriculum Coordinators, who can
Principals, who can
Teachers, who can
Parents/Community Representatives, who can
Students, who can
B. Make a Curriculum Inventory. Identify Gaps.
1. Identify what is currently being taught and the local expertise in the district.
2. Solicit the thoughts, recommendations, and feelings about the current strengths and weaknesses and the future curriculum needs from all community members.
3. Cluster and compare the results of the inventory. Make decisions about what is needed.
C. Develop the Curriculum and Assessment Guidelines.
1. Establish subcommittees for the different student grouping levels (preschool, primary, intermediate, and middle and high school) or create another process that ensures representation of teachers from all levels.
2. Determine performance standards that are appropriate for students at different levels. (The Department of Education & Early Development is currently developing Alaska student performance standards for students at benchmark ages 8-10, 12-14, and 16-18.)
3. Determine expectations and model assessments for each level and develop model portfolios that demonstrate the attainment of student standards.
4. Implement the feedback and editing process on the new curriculum.
D. Create Classroom Instructional Models That Support the Curriculum and Assessment Guidelines.
Choose topics that can address one or more standards. Choose some topics that are integrated across several disciplines to provide effective interdisciplinary models.
Choose instructional methods and assessment strategies.
Identify how the instruction will prepare the students to meet the Alaska content standards.
Choose supportive curricular materials and technology.
Ask teachers to pilot specific instructional methods in their classrooms. Solicit feedback and editing.
E. Identify Resources Needed. Determine Budgetary Demands and Priorities.
Support the use or development of facility resources that encourage cooperative work, community connections, and applications in real-life contexts. Classrooms should have tables that promote small-group cooperative activities. Students should have ready access to the world outside of the school building through telecommunications and doorways. Electrical outlets must be adequate and dependable to support the increased technology in the classroom. Buildings should be wired to support local area networking via computers.
Review hiring practices to guarantee that districts recruit highly qualified teachers who are reflective of the local cultures and have specific training in a variety of instructional and assessment strategies.
Provide cultural sensitivity workshops for all personnel.
F. Provide Professional Development Opportunities for All District/School Personnel.
Provide both method and content classes to all interested parties, including instructional aids and classroom volunteers.
Create networking opportunities through technology among teachers, administrators, and community members on the local, regional and national levels.
Encourage teacher reflection and classroom-based research.
Contents | Starting Point