District"s Curriculum Review `Getting a Handle On' Goals for Learning

Article excerpt

The groups reviewing the curriculum of the Francis Howell School District are "getting a handle on" what students there should be taught.

"We don't do outcome-based education here, but we certainly need to focus on what it is we want kids to know and to learn," Mary Aspedon, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the district, said this week.

In outcome-based education, officials decide first what students should know at the end of their schooling. Then, educators design all instruction toward that outcome, Aspedon said.

"We need to have a clear focus on what we expect to learn," said Aspedon, who updated School Board members last week on the curriculum review effort they approved last year.

Aspedon called the effort "a major change" because curriculum in the past had been largely derived from textbooks. The effort now, she said, "is we have to decide on (what should be taught) first, and then go out and buy the materials that will help us.

"People are scared to death" about outcome-based education, said Aspedon. "We want to deal with it head-on."

She noted, "I think there is some concern about textbook content because there are so few publishers."

In recent years, she said, publishers have been buying each other out. Remaining are only four major publishers, which she said tend to write books for large states where districts must use state-approved texts. Often, she said, the content of such books is in sync with what the Howell district wants.

Most of the original, basic ideas of outcome-based education would probably be accepted by most, said Aspedon. "We all agree with the need for higher expectations, that all can learn and that we need to have a clear focus on what we expect kids to learn. …

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