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School Curriculum Basics

Schools are crucial in shaping a learner's education and creating enriching learning experiences. The cornerstone of these experiences is the school curriculum. In education, a curriculum is a comprehensive plan that includes grade-level coursework. It also contains instructional materials for teaching students.

School curriculum refers to a particular set of courses offered by a school. It may also refer to various activities designed to foster education. These courses help meet the needs of a learning community.

This section provides information to help you understand the basics of school curricula. Select from the list of titles to learn more.

The Basics of School Curriculum Standards

Educational bodies establish the standards that guide the school curriculum. An example of an educational body is the Department of Education. The school curriculum is also known as academic standards. They provide a blueprint for what students should know at each grade level. They encompass content standards specific to different subject areas. Standards outline critical thinking and problem-solving competencies.

The basics of student curriculum are crucial to understanding how education programs work. It is like a roadmap for student learning. They contain lessons and activities designed by teachers and educators. Every subject students learn in school is part of the curriculum. This usually includes math, science, English, and history. Curriculum and instruction go hand-in-hand to ensure students gain knowledge and skills.

These standards also involve learning goals aimed at ensuring student progress. For instance, the Common Core State Standards set national benchmarks. They ensure high-quality learning experiences. This set of standards also equips students with the necessary skills in middle school and high school.

Curriculum Decisionmaking

Each school district has its process for developing curriculums. Curriculums may subject both school administrators and the board of education to scrutiny. Parents and organizations may criticize what should be in the curriculum.

When developing a curriculum, educators refer to education standards. These are goals set by experts in education. They tell us what students should know and be able to do at every grade level. Standards are necessary because they ensure that all students learn the same content.

School boards must design a curriculum that furthers legitimate pedagogical concerns. Yet, this term is rarely defined with any specificity. School boards must determine for themselves what this means. State and federal authorities may provide guidance. They offer better resources to research and develop the most effective school policies.

There is no universal definition for legitimate pedagogical concerns, but courts have given some guidance on what activities would fall outside of this scope. Examples of excluded curricular items include:

  • Political advocacy
  • Bias or prejudice
  • Lack of neutrality in religious matters
  • Sexually harassing speech
  • Vulgarity, profanity, nudity, sexuality, drug use, violence, or other inappropriate themes

Curriculum development is a critical aspect of public school operations. It involves creating curriculum frameworks and lesson plans. It also requires selecting instructional materials to guide teaching. The process requires ongoing professional development for educators.

Curriculum development also mandates the involvement of stakeholders. Stakeholders can include teachers, parents, and even students. This cooperation ensures that the curricular choices meet learners' needs. It also ensures the choices align with state and national standards.

Sometimes, students need help with specific subjects or topics. That is where interventions come in. An intervention is an extra helping hand. It can be more focused teaching or tutoring to help students catch up. This can be in small groups or one-on-one. The goal is to ensure that every student understands their learning, even if it is difficult.

National School Curriculum Standards

National standards set a consistent understanding of what students should learn. An example is the Common Core Standards. These standards harmonize learning experiences across the United States and ensure that students receive a quality education. Students should receive this education regardless of where they live.

The Common Core Standards encompass critical competencies and content areas. They also encourage academic growth and promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Traditionally, local governments have made determinations about students' curriculums. This permitted communities some flexibility in teaching necessary skills. These skills help prepare the student to succeed in the local society and economy, but there is a growing trend toward standardizing primary and secondary school education.

There is no national curriculum that all school districts must teach, but independent organizations have created model curricula that school districts may incorporate. These voluntary standards exist for mathematics and science. They also apply to language arts, fine arts, social science, technology, and physical education.

Advanced Placement (AP) Classes

Advanced Placement (AP) classes are slightly more standardized. All AP students must pass the same AP test upon completing an AP course to earn college credit for their work. AP course teachers receive a recommended syllabus to help students meet these goals. Teaching everything on the syllabus, however, is optional. Instead, they may choose to use or disregard the details of the recommended syllabus. This depends on what they think will best meet their student's educational goals.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a nationally administered test. This test is also known as the "Nation's Report Card." The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) issues the NAEP nationwide to schools. They do this to get a representative sample of the nation's student body. NCES does not require a particular curriculum. The results may provide insight. They can help highlight the effectiveness of a school district's educational system.

Special Education and School Curriculum

Special education is an indispensable element of education programs. Its primary purpose is to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Offering specialized instruction is one facet of special education. Special educators train to meet the needs of these students, using distinctive learning strategies designed to help these students learn. For instance, a special educator might use visual aids for impaired students. Or, they may use physical cues or hands-on activities.

Tools also play a significant role in special education. These can be physical tools like Braille for students with visual impairments or digital resources like speech-to-text software for those with dyslexia. Additionally, educators might use assistive technologies such as special keyboards or noise-canceling headphones. These tools aren't only about making things easier for students. They're also about ensuring that students can fully engage with their education.

These students are subject to the educational standards set for all students. They must learn the same content and reach the same benchmarks as their peers, but their unique needs may need more resources to achieve these standards. This might mean they get extra time on tests, modified assignments, or tutoring.

Getting Legal Help With School Curricula

Some parents or students may feel that the school curriculum needs to meet their needs. They may find the current curriculum needs to do so. For example, a student might be failing despite interventions. A student in special education may not be receiving the necessary support they need. In such situations, seeking legal help might be your best option.

Get help from an education lawyer today.

Learn About School Curriculum Basics

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