In response to the 12/10/2010 post, “Curriculum Myth,” a LYS Principal writes: Sean did a good job of fielding this one. Let’s look at your opening statement: Shouldn’t curriculum, instruction and assessment all be standards-oriented, research-based and data driven? The answer to this question is “YES” From a curriculum theory standpoint, you have the taught curriculum, the prescribed curriculum, and the learned curriculum. Curriculum begins with standards. In Texas, the State Board of Education (SBOE) determines these standards. Standards should be research based with input from society, experts, and anticipation on the needs of students in a changing future, etc. TEA uses the SBOE standards (TEKS) and builds assessment of those standards (TAKS, STAAR). Pearson uses a whole lot of experts (and money) to develop assessments. These assessments are research based and to paraphrase Willard Daggett, “For a standardized test, TAKS is pretty good.” You have no control of the tested standards. And there is NO need for YOU to research them. The research has been professionally conducted and the assessment is what it is. Are those standards research based? Maybe, maybe not. You really have to follow the buffoonery that is SBOE deliberations to answer this question and if you do follow the buffoonery, you know the answer. Once we know the tested standards, we work on the prescribed curriculum. We select a curriculum that we trust is aligned to tested standards. Again, no need to do the research, it has been done for you when the standards were determined, just align your prescribed curriculum to the tested standards. Next you have the taught curriculum, what happens in the classroom, and the learned curriculum, which also happens in the classroom. This is where PowerWalks, the Fundamental Five and common assessments come in. We use frequent common assessments (which are probably not research based) to verify that the taught and learned curriculum is aligned with the prescribed curriculum. From top to bottom it looks like this: 1. Standards (partially research based, partially politically and ideologically motivated) developed/approved by the SBOE. 2. Tested standards based upon SBOE standards (TEKS). Tested standards are developed by TEA (TAKS, STAAR). The tested standards are definitely research based, but not by you. You can conduct your own research, but the State is not interested in the results of your research. 3. Your district chooses a curriculum (C-Scope, C-CAP, et al.) that is aligned to the tested standards. Again, no research required, just verify the prescribed curriculum addresses the needs of the tested standards, which is a scope and sequence issue, not a research issue. At this step, we are looking for alignment, not validity and reliability. 4. Verify that the taught and learned curriculums are tightly aligned to the prescribed curriculum. So yes, curriculum is in theory, research based. But in our case no research is required. BTW, you get an A+ and get to go to the head of the class if you can analyze the process described in steps 1-4, find the weaknesses, and create practical solutions to address those weaknesses. The process will require no research. I have a lot of principals and central office types ask me how to respond to teachers who are attacking C-Scope, claiming C-Scope is not research based. I hope here I have made it clear C-Scope has no need to be research based, it just needs to align to the tested standards, and it is. SC Response If I did a good job with my response, you did a great job with yours. All I will add is this. I want teachers to be experts. But to create a staff of experts I have to narrow the focus, not expand it. So to create a staff of experts in the delivery of instruction (the art of teaching), I have to take something off their plate. Outsource the “what to teach” (constant research) and the “when to teach it” (constant evaluation) issues to other experts. Translation: Leadership must bring an aligned scope and sequence to the instructional staff so they can focus their time and brainpower on becoming expert teachers. Think. Work. Achieve.Your turn…Follow Sean Cain at the LYS Presentations at the TASB Winter Legal Conference (Today)Visit the LYS Booth at the NASSP Conference (2/24 – 2/26)Attend the LYS Presentation at the Texas Middle School Association Conference (2/26/2011)