In a recent article from Robert Pondiscio the author uses the results of a recent RAND study to argue that teaching as a profession is too complex for mere mortals. The RAND study found that almost all teachers depend on Google and Pinterest to find supplemental curricular materials. Pondiscio asserts that teachers are not to blame for this problem because in many (perhaps most) districts the curricular materials used to teach our children is an afterthought. Pondiscio also cites a 2012 Brookings Report that found that choosing a better second-grade math curriculum had a larger effect on student outcomes than replacing a fiftieth-percentile teacher with a seventy-fifth-percentile teacher. Pondiscio notes that there are legitimate reasons for teachers to hit the internet for supplemental resources including adaptations and extensions. Pondiscio argues that we want is our best teachers investing time in instructional design and newer teachers investing time in honing their craft.
It is not clear what the appropriate amount of time a teacher should spend on instructional design or finding classroom materials on the internet is, but it does seem fair to argue that districts should invest time and energy in providing the best possible materials to their teachers.
Given the importance place on having a quality curriculum and assuring that students reach high standards, it is important to monitor the quality of the curriculum. There are multiple ways to gather feedback from teachers on the curriculum, including a survey. A survey likely only provides initial feedback on overall quality. To improve the quality of the curriculum more in-depth conversations with teachers would have to occur. Also, observations of the curriculum in use would be helpful. Below are some potential questions that could be included in a survey of teachers regarding curriculum:
- The curriculum documents are well organized and purposefully designed to facilitate learning (level of agreement).
- The curriculum documents follow a progression of learning that is free of repetition and covers necessary academic material (level of agreement).
- The curriculum scope and sequence is appropriate to prepare students for the next grade-level (level of agreement).
- The curriculum is of appropriate rigor (range from too challenging to too easy).
- The curriculum documents facilitate lesson planning (level of agreement).
- I stick closely to the curriculum (level of agreement).
- The learning objectives are clear and appropriate to the needs of the students (level of agreement).
- The resources (e.g. textbooks) are aligned with the curriculum and support learning(level of agreement).
- Do the assessments provided with the curriculum adequately measure student learning?
- I depend on Google or Pinterest for materials to support instruction because the curricular materials provided are inadequate (level of agreement).