Developing a Curricular Program
The development of a curricular program should include input from a variety of stakeholders so that the program meets the needs of students from a variety of backgrounds. Additionally, when input from stakeholders is ascertained during the curriculum development process, the curriculum will better reflect the values of the education system’s community as well as inculcate a knowledge base that is both informed by education specialists and by the needs of students and their parents (Olivia, 2005). So that educational agencies may develop a system-wide approach to curricular implementation, the roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders involved with such a task are outlined herein. The primary stakeholders are teachers, students, school administrators, parents, and paraprofessionals.
Roles and Responsibilities
In addition to the daily operations of a school site, principals and their assistants should be able to ascertain the strengths of their school as well as the barriers they see as obstacles to academic achievement. They should also be able to identify and report the measures that have been taken to improve academic achievement at their school as well as to describe the kinds of support provided for classroom teachers (e.g. professional development, mentoring, etc…). Moreover, they are responsible for effectuating decisions making processes (Diamond, 1997). In addition to the responsibilities above, administrators are also held accountable for equitably distributing budgets and categorical funds to achieve the greatest value for the taxpayers’ dollars. They coordinate services and programs for special populations, such as English learners, in a way that allows these students to receive access to the core curriculum. As such, administrators are the key members of a school held responsible for making decisions regarding curriculum, instruction, and assessment processes (Olivia, 2005). Ultimately, they will be held responsible for giving final approval of the curriculum candidate as developed by the curriculum development team.
In providing input to the curriculum development process, like administrators, teachers should be able to measure the strengths and weaknesses of their school. Additionally, teachers in lead roles are often responsible for developing and providing professional development activities that enhance the ability of the teachers at large to deliver instruction. The role of teachers in the curriculum development process cannot be underestimated as they should be considered the primary authors of the curriculum being created or improved (English, 2000). Particularly, they are responsible for developing interventions and support systems for students at risk, the creation of diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment systems of the curriculum as well as to assemble adequate instructional materials and resources to teach their students. Furthermore, collaboration and articulation with grade level and department colleagues will lend authority to teachers as they form the curriculum candidate. Finally, teachers are responsible for taking into account student achievement data in shaping the emphases of the curriculum being developed.
Paraprofessionals, supplement the core instructional program for students. As such, their input into the curriculum development process will be important in shaping the instructional focus of the school. Their responsibilities include being familiar with grade-level standards for the students they assist and supporting their achievement of these standards. They should also be acquainted with specially designed methodologies for supporting English learners and, as a result, will be able to provide insight toward what kind of support special populations on site may require. Additionally, often, paraprofessionals are assigned out-of-classroom or non-instructional duties in context of extracurricular programs. Their experiences with such duties may also guide the curriculum development committee as it seeks to extend the guaranteed curriculum beyond the classroom environment. Finally, as paraprofessionals interface with students’ parents, communicating the priorities of the parents or other community members to the development process may be of critical value.
Although the authority level of parents and community members regarding the approval of the curriculum being developed will be minimal, their involvement in the process will enhance the development of the curriculum (Olivia, 2005). For example, they will be able to provide input regarding their greatest concerns as parents of students at the school and what they appreciate about the educational programs offered. Parents are also in a particularly advantageous position to be able to communicate to the curriculum development committee what may get in the way of students learning or being successful at the school. Their input in this regard will help the curriculum development team to build on what the school is already doing to help students be more successful and learn more. Finally, parental participation will inform administrators and teachers alike of what their hopes for their children are that may guide the shaping of the curriculum in foundational ways (e.g. geared toward particular vocations, geared toward college-bound students, etc…).
Because students are such a major part of the curriculum development process as they are the recipients of curricula, it is crucial for them to provide ideas and feedback regarding the proposed curricula under development. Their role in the process will be strictly advisory (i.e. they will have no authority in the final curriculum approval process). As advisors, they will be held responsible for reviewing some of the developed portions of the curriculum and providing commentary and reactions to it. Additionally, they are in a unique position to voice the reasons for students doing well or succeeding academically. Their ability to communicate candidly what other students feel about the instructional programs may provide elucidating insights to curricular development process.
Relationships and Communications
The communication process for this development system will be linear (Fig. 1). That is, although all stakeholders will be provided with ample opportunities to provide input to the process of developing the curriculum candidate, teachers will be held primarily accountable for authoring or revising the curriculum and, as such, their input will be regarded most significant in shaping the curriculum. Their input will be the most valued as administrators make final decisions regarding the curriculum candidate. Because of their in-class observation and experience with existing curriculum, paraprofessionals input will be second only to the teachers’ and administrators. Finally, in their roles as advisors, students and parents will be able to influence the development of the curriculum candidate by providing insight and feedback to the process (Olivia, 2005).
Because all levels of input will be valued, the visual depiction in figure one below does not consist of variant planes but, instead, is consistent of a linear chain of communication—all leading to the resultant point wherein administrators will have the final say regarding approval of the developed or revised curriculum. The levels, or degrees depicted in the visual diagram is only intended to demonstrate the level of credence that administrators will be lending to the stakeholders as they provide input and, in the case of the teachers, authoring and implementing the curriculum candidate.
Figure 1. Visual Depiction of Communication Process for Curriculum Development Team
Diamond, R. M. (1997). Designing and assessing courses and curricula: A practical guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
English, F. W. (2000). Deciding what to teach and test: Developing, aligning, and auditing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Olivia, P. F. (2005). Developing the curriculum (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.