The process of planning for curriculum
development can make the work that follows efficient and relatively easy, or
difficult and unwieldy. This lesson approaches the process for planning
curriculum development backwards. It starts with the review that occurs
after implementation for one particular school district. The reader should
look at that review, and then think back about how changes in the curriculum
planning process could have alleviated some of the negative points
identified in the review.
is no single, correct procedure for curriculum planning. However, different
school districts may in fact specify such procedures. Accountability of
curriculum planning processes typically occurs during a curriculum
evaluation or audit. Please visit the Mount Baker, WA, School District
Curriculum Audit (required visit):
While there, you might want to begin with
Appendix D, the
Sample Curriculum and Instructional Program Evaluation Policy, which
lists a number of evaluation criteria related to curriculum.
Also, please visit the findings for
Standard 2, which include the following, clicking on and reviewing each of
the first four findings listed:
2.1: Coverage of District Curriculum in Written Guides is Adequate
for K-8 Instruction but Inadequate for Grades 9-12.
2.2: Curriculum Guides Are Not Yet Adequate to Direct the
Instructional Program; Use of the Guides Is Not Institutionalized at All
2.3: Many Programs Lack Clear Connection to District Curriculum and
Are Not Formally Evaluated for Effectiveness.
2.4: The District Curriculum Management System Is Not Complete, Is
Inadequately Documented, and Is Not Understood System-wide."
Other findings and recommendations can be
seen in this audit report that may impact how a curriculum planner
approaches their tasks.
contains information from the auditors about the district's policy on some
curriculum development processes. Noted are the policies for course outlines
(Policy 2122), "participatory decision making" (Policy 2010), and the
be attended to in planning, development, and implementing the
"A. Articulation from
grade-to-grade, pre-school to elementary school, elementary school
to junior high school, junior high school to high school, and high
school to post secondary educational opportunities;
"B. Students’ needs
for enrichment and remediation opportunities;
inter-disciplinary integration of various curricula;
"D. Assessment of
student performance; and
"E. Consistency of
Mount Baker is not unique in this
respect. Similar curriculum development audits can be found for other
Curriculum planners may think they have
either less or more authority than is the case.
Let's say a Technology
Education curriculum development team from South Lyon, MI, was
working on a new curriculum guide and one member noted that it would
help if the curriculum development process used some criteria for
selecting instructional materials, and textbooks, in particular.
After some discussion, the committee of three technology teachers
decided to use the following quality standards:
cost of the textbook
years the textbook
would likely last
number of pages in
committee members knew the authors
whether the textbook
covered what was already being taught
Only too late did
they find out that their decision violated stated district policy.
Their board of education had previously established the following
"IV. Criteria for
selection of Learning Materials...
A3. Care shall be taken to select materials meeting standards of
high quality in:
quality or literary style
that is clear, comprehensible, skillful, convincing, well
organized and unbiased
features, such as useful illustrations, photographs, maps,
charts, graphs, etc.
production/construction that is well crafted, durable,
manageable and attractive"
The curriculum committee
did not have the authority to use a different list of standards, and
the list they developed was riddled with problems.
There should be no ambiguity of the
authority of either the curriculum development team, or of the authority
of individuals on that team. Curriculum development is an important
task; a critical part of the process entails review and decisions to
accept or reject by individuals who were not the ones writing curricular
materials. This review process occurs elsewhere (e.g., journal article
submissions, presentation proposals for conferences, book ideas
presented to publishers), and should be embraced by all. School board
policy should be consulted prior to embarking on any curriculum
If there are national, state, or other
standards that must be followed, or may be followed, it would aid the
curriculum development planning process to identify these. A problem may
arise in distinguishing between standards that must be included in
curricular materials, and those that need not be included. In the end, the
curriculum development team is responsible for their decisions, and it is
hoped that they will choose with the best interests of students in mind.
One group of standards that may be
considered is the International Technology
Education Association's Standards for Technological Literacy:
Various states have developed standards
for technology education programs, or courses, such as:
There are also standards dealing with the
use of educational technology; has your school district specified these? Are
there legal considerations based on the Americans with Disabilities Act or
other federal or state laws that impact curricular decisions? Are there even
standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or the
Environmental Protection Agency that impact what some might want to do in a
technology education laboratory? Teachers are advised to consult with their
district's curriculum coordinator or superintendent's office if there are
questions about these and other limitations.