Curriculum Foundations

Attachments

Curriculum Inception

Taya Hervey-McNutt

Dr. Teresa Lao

EDU 555: K-12 Curriculum Design & Development

July 27, 2021

Introduction

Farrell School District is a rural public school located in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. It has

been ranked as one of the worst-performing schools in the state. This poor performance is linked

to the low level of education among the adults, only 16 % of the adult population have a

bachelor’s degree (Stebbins & Sauter, 1). 43.9% of the school children live below the poverty

line, explaining the poor performance in schools. The most problematic subjects in the schools

are math and reading. The percentage of students who are proficient in math and English are 16

and 31 % respectively (Stebbins & Sauter, 1). I, therefore, believe it would be important to

develop a pivot curriculum that improves the math performance in the school.

● Geographical Location

Farrell School District is located in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. It serves a population of 6,798

in Farell, Wheatlands, and Sharon, Pennsylvania.

● Demographic of the Student population

The school has currently enrolled 700 students in pk-12 with only 60 teachers. It operates an

elementary school and a high school. According to Niche, the ratio of students to teachers is 12:1

which is below the statutory requirement of 15:1. The average spending per student in the district

is $26,975 (Farell, 2).

● Cultural Influences

Mercer county has different racial and ethnic compositions. 90.2% of the population is

non-Hispanic white,5.6 % non-Hispanic African Americans,1.04 % Hispanic whites, and 0.677

% non-Hispanic Asians. 90% of the students speak the English language at home while the rest

speak other languages such as Spanish, Asian, Indio-European, ect (Farell, 2).

● Regional accrediting body standards for curriculum development

The accredited body standards for curriculum development in Pennsylvania include academic

standards on different subjects which must be covered in the curriculum. The body responsible

for this is the Pennsylvania Board State of Education. The other standards include assessment

anchors for the different disciplines and eligible content that is regulated by the Pennsylvania

System of School Assessment (PSSA). The state education department has also issued early

learning standards that must be incorporated into the curriculum for elementary students

(Pennsylvania, 3).

● State and Local policies on curriculum development

The policies on curriculum development are contained in Title 22, Chapter 4 of Pennsylvania’s

code (Pennsylvania, 3). The code requires that the basis for curriculum development of all

students be based on the accredited academic standards. The curriculum should instill critical

thinking skills in the students, communication, developmental writing, and literacy skills.

The discipline and grade for which the curriculum will be developed

The pilot curriculum will address the poor performance of math by 4th grade students. Most

students within and outside Feral county dislike math. They feel that it has a lot of complex

numbers that are difficult to understand and requires a lot of memorization. Also they find it

frustrating having to repeat the same problems to get the hang of it since math requires making

lots of mistakes. Also, they feel that math limits their creativity compared to other disciplines

such as English and science. There is a fixed way of solving math problems that require

memorization which they find burdensome and boring. According to a survey conducted by the

National Centre for Education, most of the students have developed stereotypes in math because

they heard their parents saying math is boring and difficult. Despite this, some still believe that

math is a great discipline that requires the students to put in the extra effort. The discipline is

ranked among the worst performed subjects in the US.

Farrell school area ranked among the bottom 50 schools in Pennsylvania. Only 16% of its

students are proficient in math with grade 4 registering the least performance. In 2018, the level

of poor performance of math in grade 4 was at 58 % compared to other grades that scored below

50% (Farell, 2). Math is a vital discipline that can benefit students in various ways. It enhances

their problem skills, helps them to understand the world better, and equips them with skills that

they can use to solve real-world problems (Sammons, 4). These skills are very essential for the

students in this area since poor performance is also linked to the poverty levels in the country.

Farrell school district is in a poverty-stricken area with a high teacher turnover rate. The ratio of

students to teachers is 15:1 which is below the statutory recommendations (Stebbins & Sauter,

1). The schools lack a well-structured curriculum that can help improve the student’s

performance. Additionally, most of the parents are not educated and fail to support the children,

and the teachers increase the performance gap.

Benefits of pilot curriculum to the students

A pilot curriculum is essential for determining the areas that need improvement and how to best

attain the desired educational goals. It is essential for schools like Farrell school area district that

is based in a poverty-stricken rural area with limited access to resources. The curriculum will

help in mitigating the problems associated with the obsolete curriculum that may arise in the

future. Before design a pilot curriculum, the stakeholders need to address the following questions

● The specific areas that need improvement

● What are the required resources per student

● Can the school afford the resources

● What learning theories will be adopted

● Will the learning theories apply to all the learners

● How will the curriculum cater for the learners with learning disabilities

● What are the anticipated learning outcomes

● How will the new curriculum help change the perception of the students about math

This program enables the stakeholders to determine how satisfied the students are with the old

curriculum and use it to develop the pilot curriculum. They will be able to identify the areas that

need improvement and facilitate the effective allocation of resources. This is achieved through

standardized tests which enable the teachers to identify the students that need specialized care

and areas where they need to allocate more time and resources. This eases the planning process

and increases the outcomes of the curriculum development. The benefits that will accrue to the

students are as follows ;

● Higher performance

This will be achieved through standardized testing. Taking part in the standardized tests will

enable the students to identify their areas of weakness that require improvement. They will then

communicate this to the teachers and stakeholders who will incorporate their needs into the new

curriculum. The students, with the help of the teachers, will begin working on their weaknesses

which will be enhanced with the inception of the new curriculum improving their performance.

The teachers will also be able to identify the students with learning disabilities before the onset

of the implementation of the curriculum and issue instructional goals to help increase their

performance

● Increased Motivation

Students feel motivated when they are engaged in the curriculum development process. They

will be willing to change their perception about the discipline when they realize the

administration wants to address their concerns. One of the causative factors of the student’s

negative perception of mathematics is lack of motivation. This is achieved through issuing

test-based incentives where the students are given a target and rewarded when they achieve it.

The students are therefore motivated to work harder to qualify for the incentives increasing their

learning outcomes.

● Increased Learning Outcomes

Setting targets and rewarding students for achieving them increases their learning outcomes.

Once a student hits the set target, the bar is set higher and the number of incentives also

increased. The student’s learning outcomes will gradually increase over time as they strive to

reach their targets to attract the incentives. In the process, they will identify their weaknesses and

communicate them with the curriculum developer or their teachers who will ensure that the

inception of the new curriculum addresses their needs.

Instructional goals

Instructional goals are the desired learning outcomes from the inception of the pilot curriculum.

The four instructional goals include; critical thinking, problem-solving, understanding the

mathematical language, and increased mathematical confidence

● Critical thinking

The first instructional goal for the curriculum is critical thinking that deviates from the old

approach of memorization to an advanced way of tackling numerical problems. Critical thinking

skills are important when solving math problems as it makes learning to be more significant and

purposeful (Toh & Chua, 5). It will enable the students to internalize the problems and take

predetermined steps without just guessing hence increasing their performance. The new

curriculum will issue guidelines on the activities that the students will be engaged in to improve

their performance. This includes issuing open-ended questions on areas such as addition and

subtraction of fractions and letting them attempt the problems before stepping in. The teachers

will also utilize tools such as Bloom’s Taxonomy and Maths300 to improve critical thinking

among the students. Given the economic nature of the Farrell district, the school will need to

apply for more funds from the state to implement these strategies which I believe will be useful

in improving the student’s learning outcomes

● Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another instructional goal that will improve the student’s learning outcomes.

The concept of problem-solving is based on the fact that math should be understood and not

memorized. Most of the 4th-grade students at Ferrell fail mathematics because they tackle it the

same way they handle other disciplines. Problem-solving enables the students to internalize the

problem, analyze it and be able to explain the procedure if given similar problems (Liljedahl &

Santos-Trigo, 6). This concept applies to the topics of measurement conversion and decimal

notations.

● Understanding the Mathematical Language

The other instructional goal for the new curriculum is to ensure the students comprehend the

mathematical language. Understanding math vocabulary is vital for achieving proficiency in the

discipline. The students can utilize critical thinking and problem-solving skills if they apprehend

math vocabulary. The pilot curriculum requires the teachers to start teaching math vocabulary

such as the different symbols, where and how to use them as early as grade one. The students

will be conversant with the symbols when they get to the 4th grade hence improving their

performance.

● Increased Confidence

Students who lack confidence will never attempt to answer mathematical questions in class.

They always keep their heads and avoid making eye contact whenever the teacher asks a

question. This is the leading cause of poor performance because the students fail to challenge

themselves hence retarding their learning process. A confident student strives to learn new ways

of solving math problems by attempting advanced problems. They are not afraid to make

mistakes which increases their math skills. To achieve this goal, the teachers should always

praise the students whenever they get a problem right, however simple it may be, and encourage

them to attempt advanced ones (Toh & Chua, 5). Also, the pilot curriculum requires the teachers

to listen to the student’s needs. They can utilize this to understand the student’s areas of

weakness and develop ways of boosting their confidence and improving their performance. This

can be done by issuing rewards whenever a shy student attempts to solve a question during class.

References

1. Stebbins, S., & Sauter, M. B. (2020, March 11). Making the grade?: In these school

districts, students are less likely to succeed. USA Today.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/03/11/school-districts-50-us-where-students

-least-likely-succeed/5000094002/.

2. Farell Area School District. (2021). Farrell Area School District.

https://www.farrellareaschools.com/.

3. Pennsylvania State Board of Education. (2021). Regulations & Policy. State Board of

Education. https://www.stateboard.education.pa.gov/Regulations/Pages/default.aspx.

4. Sammons, L. (2018). Teaching students to communicate mathematically.

5. Toh, P. C., Chua, B. L., & Association of Mathematics Educators (Singapore). (2018).

Mathematics instruction: Goals, tasks, and activities.

6. Liljedahl, P., Santos-Trigo, M. (2019). Mathematical problem solving: Current themes,

trends and research.

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