For Curriculum Developers
District Curriculum Development Process
What is it?
A standards-based curriculum addresses what students should know, be
able to do, and be committed to (content and performance standards), how
it is taught (instruction), how it is measured (assessment), and how the
educational system is organized (context). The result from the process
(described below) is a written tool that can help teachers, parents, students
and the community understand and support quality education. A standards-based
curriculum can also provide an opportunity to develop understanding and
ownership by all parties with interests in your educational system.
A strong standards-based curriculum development process is more than
expert teachers creating scope and sequence documents with suggested textbooks.
Research tells us that 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
A standards-based district curriculum should contain:
- Content and performance standards
- Guidelines for effective instruction and
- Suggestions and models
- Suggestions and recommendations for districts in the following context
- Educational accountability with a clear statement of standards and
expectations for students, teachers, instructional aides, parents, district
officials, and all others who participate in the particular education
- Suggestions for the rethinking of the conventional structure and
schedule of schools in terms of school day, school year, grade levels,
subject areas, graduation requirements, student grouping, and physical
When do you revise your curriculum?
Each Alaska school district has its own curriculum development process.
However, all Alaskan curriculum plans must be based on a planned cycle
of renewal of no longer than six year's duration. Curriculum should be
periodically revised to address new research findings and new laws or
What will a standards-based curriculum committee do?
The expectations of standards-based curriculum development committees
cross 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.
Curriculum development committees needs members who can:
- Research effective practices and models
- Gather information about current instruction
- Write appropriate expectations and assessments for all students, at
all levels and abilities
- Review policies and behaviors that foster community involvement and
equitable opportunities for all; and
- Recommend and develop professional development activities to support
the content, instruction, and assessment expectations.
Examples of the types of contribution individuals can make:
School Board Members (serve as strong advocates of curriculum
transformation, provide strong public support for standards-based instructional
programs and must approve the final curriculum documents)
Superintendent (establishes a support system that promotes risk
taking and provides adequate resources for curriculum development professional
development, and assessment)
Curriculum Coordinators (collect information and current research
and provide leadership in planning and coordinating the curriculum reform
Principals (study research-based instructional issues, promote
action research in their schools, support risk taking and creativity in
teachers and allocate time and resources for curriculum, instruction and
Teachers (collect information on current effective practices
in their schools, provide demonstration lessons to the public and their
Parents/Community Representatives (share their expertise and
experiences, serve as cooperative advisors, editors, and advocates for
Students (help define acceptable levels of expectations and
identify motivating practices to improve student participation)
An Outline of a Suggested Curriculum Process
Your committee may choose a different process although it should contain
these basic components.
- Create a Functional and Collaborative Process.
- Include diverse members. It is highly recommended that you establish
interdisciplinary committees. If you have committees that focus
on separate content areas, allow time for collaboration and discussions
between the content areas. Suggested members include: District Curriculum
Coordinator, Teachers, Parents, Community Representatives, Principals,
Library/Media Specialists, Students, District Assessment Specialists,
Content Specialists, Business Representatives, University Faculty.
- Set up a meeting process. Plan an initial training on group processes
to facilitate productive cooperation. Create an environment where
all committee members can identify and communicate their roles within
the committee, who they represent, and their stake in this change.
- Analyze the Alaska
content standards and key elements, performance
standards and reform suggestions from content specific professional
organizations. Become familiar with the basic premises of these
documents. (Study groups are effective for this purpose.)
- Develop or revise the mission and philosophy statements for the
district based on district
or state standards.
- Develop a timeline for the curriculum revision process. The timeline
needs to conform to the six-year review process required by Alaska
Statutes. Develop and implement an ongoing, systematic process for
- Develop a way to get the support of local and district personnel
and community members. Create a system for soliciting information,
communicating your decisions, and receiving teacher and community
feedback at each step of the process. (Examples: newsletter, public
service announcements, parent bulletin, update at faculty meetings,
- Make a Curriculum Inventory. Identify Gaps.
- Identify district and state standards, what is currently being
taught and the local expertise in the district. (Ex: curriculum
- Solicit the thoughts, recommendations, and feelings about the
current strengths and weaknesses and the future curriculum needs
from all community members.
- Cluster and compare the results of the inventory. Make decisions
about what is needed.
- Develop the Curriculum and Assessment Guidelines.
- 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
- Review the student content
and performance standards, both Alaska and district developed.
Review documents created by other Alaskan districts and evaluate
for format and content.
- Determine expectations and model assessments for each level. Standards
must be evaluated by a variety of assessments. Any evaluation process
must identify the measurement yardsticks (processes, instruments),
the purposes for measuring, the measurement points or descriptors,
and the consequences of meeting or not meeting the stated expectations.
- Collect or create student models or examples that demonstrate
the attainment of student standards.
- 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 and performance standards.
- Choose supportive curricular materials and technology.
- Ask teachers to pilot specific instructional methods in their
classrooms. Solicit feedback and editing.
- Revisit your Curriculum and Assessment Guidelines. Modify if
- 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. (Ex. tables promote small-group cooperative activities,
access to the world outside of the school building through the Internet
- 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
- Provide cultural workshops for all personnel.
- Provide Professional Development Opportunities for All District/School
- 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
- Encourage teacher reflection and classroom-based research.
- Refer to the Professional Development resources for additional