Academic journal article Language Arts

CCSS-Aligned Materials: Teachers as Consumers or Curriculum Designers?

Academic journal article Language Arts

CCSS-Aligned Materials: Teachers as Consumers or Curriculum Designers?

Article excerpt

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative exhorts educators to use professional judgment to support students in meeting national goals for college and career readiness. Stipulating the "ends" but ostensibly granting local authority over the "means" represents a major shift that could restore a measure of curriculum authority to teachers. However, new CCSS-aligned curriculum products threaten to override teacher prerogative. The assessment-fueled rush to align curriculum presents three pitfalls: overemphasis on technical aspects of CCSS, continued over-reliance on externally developed materials, and over-specification of instructional strategies.

Demands for increased text complexity, greater proficiency with content-area text, and a better grasp of text-based meanings require teacher mediation. As the operational link between policy objectives and students, teachers invoke professional, cultural, and linguistic knowledge to design locally responsive curricula. Emphasizing "training" in CCSS positions teachers as consumers rather than local designers of curriculum.

NCLB's legacy of reliance on program-driven curriculum continues to influence how the field views teacher prerogative. Externally developed curriculum materials previously regarded as supplementary have become central to instruction (Dewitz & Jones, 2012), reifying the notion that authority for curriculum design exists outside of classroom enactment. Aligned resources assume that recommended "best practices" lead to student achievement. However, teachers construct differentiated approaches contingent on how their students engage with content.

While the CCSS Initiative claims that it does not define what to use or how to teach, the Initiative's Revised Publisher's Criteria (Coleman & Pimentel, 2013) could compromise instructional decision making at the classroom level. …

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