Evaluation of Teachers for Restructured Elementary Curriculum (Grades 1 to 5)

Article excerpt

Elementary school curriculum in Turkish Education System has been changed several times in the republic era. After establishment of Republic of Turkey in 1923, elementary school curriculum was restructured in 1924, 1926, 1936, 1948, 1962 and 1968 (Tazebay, 2000). From 1923 to 1997 compulsory education in Turkey was five years. However, in 1997 The Minister of National Education (MONE) made a radical decision to increase compulsory education to eight years. Therefore, the primary school curriculum and the middle school curriculum were combined in the elementary school system. However, at that time those curricula were not revised and restructured. In order to unify and integrate elementary school curriculum, new elementary school curriculum (grades 1-5) was developed and introduced as a pilot study in the 2004-2005 academic year in some regions of Turkey. As a result of it, in 2005-2006 academic year the reconstructed elementary curriculum (grades 1-5) was introduced in the Turkish elementary schools.

What is the reason behind curriculum innovation in Turkish Primary School System? Implementations of educational activities and school policies had been criticized in terms of test results and level of students' academic knowledge and thinking skills. Educational equity is not likely without a range of opportunities for conception and representation, opportunities that are wide enough to satisfy the diversity of talents of those who come to school (Eisner, 1994). Particularly failures of Turkish students in norm-referenced tests in national and international level were criticized. For example, according to 2003 PISA results Turkish students score were second lowest level. These results were interpreted in the way that Turkish school systems should be revised philosophically and psychologically. Students were learning based on retention instead of thinking and experiencing. In fact, The Turkish Ministry of National Education (MONE) took a radical decision to reshape curriculums rooted in constructivism and active learning.

The principles of constructivist pedagogy are listed:

(1) posing problems of emerging relevance to learners;

(2) structuring learning around "big ideas" or primary concepts;

(3) seeking and valuing students' points of view;

(4) adapting curriculum to address students' suppositions;

(5) assessing student learning in the context of teaching (Brooks & Brooks, 1993).

On the other hand, active learning is defined to aim that is made more concrete and manageable by focusing on five student potentials that teachers have the power to influence and that directly contribute to school success. These five student abilities are dignity, energy, self-management, community, and awareness (Harmin & Toth, 2006).

Psychological foundations of the new elementary curriculum are cognitivism, constructivism, and active learning. Therefore, new curriculum is regarded as a learned-centered curriculum. The following table summarizes the differences between the ex-curriculum and the new one.

Teachers are the most obvious professionals who should assume evaluation roles. Teachers should be involved in cooperative curriculum work, and they should have partial responsibility for program evaluation. There are many views and procedures to evaluate the effectiveness of any curriculum. One of them is formative and summative curriculum evaluation approach. While formative evaluation often uses informal methods and frequently focuses on processes, summative evaluation uses more formal means of gathering data for analysis. Surveys given to assess teachers' reactions to the new curriculum will formally be prepared (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1993).

Method

In order to collect data for this study, a questionnaire consisted of open-ended questions related to courses was developed and administered to 210 teachers in June 2007 because the school year ends in the middle of June in Turkey. …