The educational landscape in America today is divided in its approach to a cohesive curriculum. Attempts have been made to bring order the curriculum universe through the advent of national standards. However, in many subject areas there are competing national standards because of the existence of different national organizations such as the National Science Teachers Association and the National Academies Press. With this said, just because a national group like the National Council of Teachers of English decides on a specific set of standards, this does not mean that those will be adopted or even referred to by an individual state. Each state comes up with its own set of standards and its own format for writing those standards. Some states may use the national standards but often they create their own based on needs and interests within their own state and current political and educational philosophies. This makes curriculum fragmented but it becomes even more complicated as you move closer to the classroom. In the United States there is a strong belief in local control of schools. Though districts adhere to state standards, there is a great deal of latitude in what actually takes place in the classroom.

Curriculum development

Districts might create guiding documents that the schools then follow. From one district to another, you might find that a course is taught in a different year. For example, one district might have economics and government taught in ninth grade while another has it in twelfth grade. The reason for differences in classroom coverage goes even further than this. The amount of lesson plan oversight required by each district varies widely. Therefore, you might find that if you compare the syllabi of two teachers at two different schools within a district who are teaching the same course to be very different. This idea of local and even classroom control is championed by many but means that new teachers often have a difficulty in determining exactly what they should teach. Some end up using the textbook as a guide while others, the lucky ones, have great mentors who guide them in their course layout. To help bring order to this difficult landscape and bring an understanding of effective and progressive plans of study through the grade levels, we will be presenting sample plans of study for each grade level in the coming weeks. From there, you will be able to access detailed information for individual courses and including the major topics which should be covered within those courses. Finally, you will find numerous quality resources for the listed topics to help you create engaging lessons for your students.