The most important factor in the success of a child is the teacher in the classroom. The second most important factor is the curriculum that is in place.
Imagine being ten years old and attending a school where the expectations are low, each teacher teaches his/her own thing, there is no evidence of a standards based curriculum, but at the end of the school year you are required to sit down and take a standardized state test in order to advance to the next grade. You are ill prepared for the rigor of the questions on the test and you certainly had not been prepared to write essays in response to what you read. Imagine the amount of pressure and frustration that this child faces. This is an atrocity that can be avoided with the implementation of a high quality curriculum.
What are the characteristics of a high quality education? At the heart of a high quality curriculum is the premise that all students are able to learn and are capable of being successful. Therefore, a high quality curriculum is one built on high expectations, aligned with state standards, and is highly rigorous. Woven throughout the fabric of the curriculum across disciplines is a focus on integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Music in order to meet the needs and exceptionalities of every child.
In addition to the aforementioned, a strong curriculum is focused on critical thinking and strong 21st century communication skills. It also consists of the transmittal of relevant information, fosters an innovative climate and creativity in order to fit the needs of today’s classrooms that are comprised of students with diverse needs. Students need to be able to apply what they learn and create new and innovative products or ideas, determine various ways to solve problems, and be able to take a stance on issues by being able to apply reasoning and logic to justify their thinking.
Finally, a strong curriculum focuses on vertical and horizontal alignment between grades in order to scaffold, or build, the learning experience. Therefore, it should be developed through a collaborative approach with teachers representing all grade levels and disciplines in order to achieve cohesiveness that targets the success of every child.
With high quality curriculum and standards in place we can ensure that no child will ever be forced to feel the pain of being asked to recall information they never learned, in a way they were never taught.