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Brief Description of the Organization and New Curriculum
Public Schools of Brookline is a K-12 school district located in the state of Massachusetts. The school district’s curriculum is constantly revised to assure its relevance. Currently, the K-12 Mathematics program is undergoing the program review process (Public Schools of Brookline, 2016). The process necessitates the involvement of several key stakeholders, which sometimes leads to conflicts that are usually resolved or prevented by thorough planning.
Developing a new curriculum involves several stakeholders, some of which are directly involved in its development and implementation while others play a secondary role. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize two of the most prominent ones who largely determine the direction of the process and its particularities. The learners (in our case, the K12 students) are essentially the reason of the undertaken program review. Their interests and desired outcomes largely create the need for curriculum. The teachers are the ultimate implementers of the curriculum and have the closest contact with the learners (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013).
For these reasons, they also occupy a large part in the development process. School principals are also required to participate since they have access to coordination and administrative means. Since Public Schools of Brookline have a committee dedicated to the program review, a superintendent is a stakeholder with visible influence in designing the curriculum. Finally, a community can be counted in as a stakeholder since its needs and opinion plays a certain role in curriculum design and sometimes provides a visible contribution to the process.
Stakeholders’ Roles and Responsibilities
As it was noted above, teachers and learners play a central role in curriculum design. However, the role does not necessarily correspond to the allocated responsibilities. For instance, the learners’ involvement in the design process is traditionally limited to providing the results of various benchmarks and test results. On certain occasions, students may be actively involved in the development. However, in the case of the K12 curriculum, such participation is understandably restricted by the age of the majority of students. Thus, the learners in our program review largely contribute by participating in dedicated assessments.
The teachers, on the other hand, have a broad range of responsibilities. First, they form a teaching and learning committee, which is responsible for most phases of the design process. Specifically, they reevaluate the goals, objectives, and content of the previous curriculum and determine whether they are responsible for the shortcomings of an educational process. Since they largely deliver the final product, they also determine the scope and sequence of the content. Finally, they devise the evaluation methods and assign milestones to monitor the process. Notably, their responsibilities do not include assessment of the curriculum success – instead, this responsibility is reserved for the evaluation committee, in our case – the Office of Strategy and Performance (Wiles & Bondi, 2015). While it includes teachers, it is mostly comprised of individuals who are proficient with analysis tools. They are tasked with processing the available data and coming up with meaningful results which identify the strengths and weaknesses of the existing curriculum.
The responsibilities of a superintendent include establishing the communication between the committee and the school board, providing an overview of trends and tendencies in curricular design, oversight and adjustment of the budgeting of the process, and maintenance of curriculum’s integrity with the school district’s philosophy, values, and vision. Finally, the community has similar, albeit less direct, role to that of the learners. However, it has a wider range of responsibilities than the former. Certain community members actively voice their concerns with the present state of affairs and provide their vision of desirable outcome of the design process. Admittedly, the exact impact of the community is difficult to measure since the diverse nature of Brookline community leads to multiple suggested directions and, by extension, increases the complexity of suggested changes. Nevertheless, a visible effort is made to incorporate the feedback received from community members into the curriculum product.
Expectations for Communication and Submission of Deliverables
Our school district has a reliable communication channel established between major stakeholders and facilitators. It can be roughly divided into two broad groups. On the assessment and development stage, the communication is mostly restricted to the delivery of test results and analysis data between two school district committees – the Office of Teaching and Learning and the Office of Strategy and Performance. They use the same means and operate on the same level, so very little asynchrony is expected. During the curriculum implementation, the involvement of external parties is required. Specifically, the production of curriculum product and the subsequent testing requires an oversight of the independent entity.
The task of finding and communicating with it falls largely within responsibilities of our curriculum superintendent and his associates. Another important issue is the coordination with the human resources department which incorporates the updated curriculum content into its hiring practices and staff training to maximize the desired effect. Finally, once the curriculum is fully implemented, it becomes possible to collect the results of formative assessment as well as systematic observations. These deliverables are then submitted to the Office of Strategy and Performance where they are processed to contribute to the evaluation of the current curriculum and form the database for planning the next program review.
Areas of Potential Conflict
There are three areas which often create conflicts. First, the new curriculum often strains the allocated budget. This often happens as a result of a costly or resource-demanding innovation, and usually leads to the demand from a school board to either retract the proposed changes or significantly alternate the proposed change, which is not always possible without a sacrifice of quality of the product. Second, the schools’ diverse population often creates the situation where accounting for one group’s interests visibly decreases the potential usefulness for the rest of the learners (Ruchala, 2014). Finally, there is an inherent conflict within the design process caused by the dynamic changes in the community, which make the curriculum outdated and, in extreme cases, obsolete.
While such situation can be solved with adjusting the curriculum, it is also necessary for it to retain the capability of the student improvement. Simply put, it is unclear to which extent should a curriculum be adapted to the students, and vice versa. To circumvent these conflicts, the curriculum design plan must recognize these possibilities and address them preemptively. For instance, the superintendent must outline the possibility of budget deficits prior to their occurrence and explain the benefits of additional investments. Similarly, the impact of diversification on the learning outcomes is assessed to eliminate unnecessary changes. A similar evaluation can be used to predict the potential shortcomings of curricular adjustment and timely account for the introduced changes.
Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2013). Curriculum: Foundations, principles, and issues. Harlow, England: Pearson Education, Limited.
Public Schools of Brookline. (2016). Teaching & learning. Web.
Ruchala, P. L. (2014). Curriculum development and approval processes in changing educational environments. Curriculum Development and Evaluation in Nursing, 33(5), 33-47.
Wiles, J., & Bondi, J. (2015). Curriculum development: a guide to practice. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill.