For over four years, it was my responsibility to provide field based support and resources for failing schools in Texas. During that time, I worked with numerous districts and schools and was able to visits thousands of classrooms. There were a lot of things that we learned, but most telling was that the schools that struggled the most were the ones that did not make a state aligned curriculum available for teachers. Individual teachers, responsible for multiple preps, can not keep up with ever changing curriculum requirements, no matter how hard they work. They have to have tools and support.
As such, one of my first tasks was to determine if the district provided a common scope and sequence. If it did, ensuring the consistent use in the classroom became the focus. If a common scope and sequence was not provided, then securing one became paramount. This has become easier over time. Six years ago, there were few options available and they were expensive. Fortunately, Aldine ISD stepped forward have gave access to their scope and sequence to a group of failing small and rural schools, for free. The near immediate success that those schools had in improving student performance created a ripple effect that has been a benefit to both teachers and students.
The first benefit was that the use of a common scope and sequence went from being a good idea, to becoming a recognized best practice. The second benefit was that the regional service centers in Texas banded together to create some curriculum collaboratives, thus providing all districts with access to affordable, aligned and ever evolving curriculum resources. The third benefit was that we learned that an outsourced scope and sequence can reap immediate rewards. Finally, and most importantly, the fourth benefit was that student performance improved.
The days of individual teachers deciding what to teach and when to teach it has to end. Collectively we are always smarter as a whole, that as an individual. Instead of expecting teachers to be experts in all facets of content, let’s give them the tools they need so they can focus their attention on becoming experts in content delivery.