Thursday, February 26, 2009

Curriculum issues

On another post the following comments were made:

Anonymous said...
While I applaud the comments in the editorial and while I can only commend the efforts of Pure Reform, some mention should also have been made about the poor curriculum which is being pushed by PPS. At some point, one wonders if the idea is mind control or simply efforts in apologetic posturing. Real questions must be put forward regarding just who is writing curriculum. The answer is not teachers. Instead, ivory tower groups not in the classroom are forming policy which is beyond questionable, and they are not doing it for free. More and more decisions are being taken out of the hands of classroom teachers and into the hands of either outside entities or individuals who have never been charged with the task of teaching class in PPS.I find it sickening that these types of people are devising what our kids should learn. I find it outrageous that these types of people are visiting classrooms and making pronouncements on the effectiveness of teachers. Forgive me for saying that most current PPS administrators wouldn't know an effective teacher if he jumped and bit him in the backside. Thew day the current superintendent moves onto greener pastures will be a positive day for kids in our schools. The day a new leader cleans house of many of the administrators now in the employ of Pittsburgh taxpayers will be just as happy. And the day PPS teachers find some manner to evict union leadership which has largely betrayed their best interests will complete the dream.
February 25, 2009 6:33 PM

Questioner said...
pHow can we make the public more aware of curriculum issues?It might help to have specific examples, ie "The 7th grade history curriculum has these issues:..."
February 25, 2009 7:07 PM

fixit said...
Can't the 4Sight tests be used to point out failures or at least holes in the curriculum? If an entire grade goes down from one test to the next isn't that an indication of a problem with the curriculum? I will take the opportunity to say again, on these school visits and in the 60% of the time directors spend in buildings they should have to teach a class or two.
February 25, 2009 8:24 PM

parent'o'3 said...
My understanding is that the 4sight tests are designed as predictors of PSSA scores. PSSAs, particularly reading, don't test the curriculum, per se, since they are given to every (public) school in the state. They have to test skills and concepts, but not specific content. There isn't going to be calculus on the 11th grade PSSA. There's also a difference between the "what" and the "how." Every teacher should know what students should know at the end of the year, in terms of content, skills, concepts -- in other words, a curriculum. That should be posted on the district website and every kid should know what those (minimum) standards are. That's what the district should be telling teachers. Competent, experienced teachers should be the ones that decide the how -- how do we teach these things so that the students learn and know it? Newer teachers should be observed and taught successful ways of teaching (notice I said wayS, because there isn't just one). As parents, we can demand that curriculum be listed -- what will kids coming out of a grade know. We should also demand to know what they plan to do to enrich the kids that already know those things going into the grade and how they plan to help the kids that still aren't secure in the year before's material. Sigh. But, they seem instead to be inundating teachers with a lot of HOW and a lot of do this and this and that micromanagement and never taking care of the big picture, other than calling for it to be "rigorous" and about "excellence." And then we're back to calling for transparency.
February 25, 2009 8:35 PM

Questioner said...
This is an interesting idea:"Every teacher should know what students should know at the end of the year, in terms of content, skills, concepts -- in other words, a curriculum. That should be posted on the district website and every kid should know what those (minimum) standards are." Is this available anywhere, even if not on the website? For ex, if I have a fifth grader and I asked for this information at the beginning of the year, would teachers be able to give me that information?
February 25, 2009 8:54 PM

Anonymous said...
A lot of salient points here but some misconceptions need to be cleared up. First of all, the 4Sight is commonly called a predictor of PSSA results. Many of us have come to look at such comments as bollocks, and this is especially true in Reading. I am not sure how much is being paid to the creators of this test, but one would think that there should be no room--none whatsoever--for running the same stories and questions EVER again during a given child's academic career. Nonetheless, it is common to see reading selections repeated. Additionally, you will excuse me for saying that PSSA's and 4Sights share the same general style, but PSSA's offer a more devious way of doing things. Someday, some local administrator will have the gumption to get up and call the tests what they are---a sham. What else can you call tests that seek to confuse or bore young readers more than anything else and still call itself a barometer of how well or poorly a child reads. Sadly, I doubt any administrator in this district will ever exhibit such gumption. Secondly, you talk about teachers knowing what their students should know at the end of the year. Agreed. This is humorous, however, in that each English teacher is traveling a mighty choppy road. They get their unit curricula a few days before they are to implement it. They are told that the curricula is to be followed verbatim. They are told that what they think is important is negligible, at best. Stick to the script, and shut up.
February 25, 2009 10:33 PM

Anonymous said...
While we are discussing curricula, can someone tell me why my son, a junior in high school, was expecting ALL subs today because his IB teachers are ALL in curriculum meetings? Maybe instead of having pep rallies with the superintendent, the teachers could work on curricula during their scheduled inservice days.
February 26, 2009 9:50 AM
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