The previous decades have seen a change in the way schools and institutions of learning are managed with accountability being emphasized. There has been a shift in policy with the various stakeholders being seen as customers. Therefore, in learning institutions, effective customer service is increasingly being emphasized throughout all the operational aspects of the school year. A Curriculum Management Plan (CMP) is effective in the achievement of the required levels of customer service. The following essay is a CMP addressing the school district’s need for a district-wide customer service-training program for all staff members.
The Need for CMP in Schools
A curriculum management plan governs the knowledge imparted to students at all levels and grades in a school. Wiles and Bondi’s format takes into account the various activities that are central when it comes to curriculum development. According to them, the “…development process usually begins with a set of questions that initially reveal value preferences and later undergird planning efforts, program development, and evaluation” (Wiles & Bondi, 2010, p. 2). The main contents of the plan are the objectives, which govern what is taught in the classroom in all the schools in a particular district. The different alignments of a curriculum include the vertical alignment of the curriculum, which logically causes the progression of objectives from grade to grade. In addition, in the horizontal alignment, students in different classes and levels have similar objectives while those in the systematic alignment have similar standards and objectives throughout the district (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein, & Pajak, 2007, p. 177).
According to Neill, “…education imparts the necessary knowledge, concepts, processes, and attitudes for all students for them to be successful in society” (Neill, 1996, p. 32). The imparting of education in the institutions should provide an opportunity for self-development and expression of the innate talents and potential in each student. Education should also recognize the unique characteristics of each of the individual students (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein, & Pajak, 2007, p. 177). In the district, the curriculum design and delivery will be based on a number of values. The first value is that all students have an equal chance of achieving excellence in the learning of essentials of formal schooling (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein, & Pajak, 2007, p. 175).
Another belief that forms one of the values of the curriculum is that stated by Owen that success influences self-concept, which in turn influences learning and behavior (1973, p. 27). The third one is that the instructional process can be adapted to improve learning (Owen, 1973, p. 27). The next concept is that learning can be maximized in an institution by a statement of objectives, construction of high expectations for all the students, assessing them, and modification of the teaching based on the results of the assessment. The fifth one is that educational experiences should be provided to students at the appropriate level of challenge to ensure maximum achievement (Owen, 1973, p. 27). Based on the above value, the sixth one is that high levels of student achievement “form the benchmark for effective curriculum design and institutional delivery of that curriculum” (Owen, 1973, p. 33).
To maintain an elaborate and efficient curriculum, it is vital to ensure a frequent review of its application and relevance to the current studies. This section deals with the construction of guidelines for review for the district by describing the scope, frequency, and procedures used for this kind of review. In each of the schools that the curriculum will be applied within the district, a review will be carried out annually by the state-based testing system (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein, & Pajak, 2007, p. 179) with some of the parts of the curriculum being evaluated on a three-year basis.
Curriculum management: roles and responsibilities
The management of the curriculum is by a variety of members who will contribute differently to make the curriculum work effectively. According to Neill, some of the institutions and individuals to be involved include the board of trustees, the central administration, the campus administration, and the teachers (1996, p. 32). The board of trustees will be charged with the mandate of approving the curriculum objectives prior to classroom delivery (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein, & Pajak, 2007, p. 180). This strategy will ensure a standard and vetted content at each of the levels of the institutions. The central administration will have the role of creating the curriculum design for application of the same from the pre-kindergarten classrooms to the 12th grade (Neill, 1996, p. 37). The central administration will also facilitate planning and training of the staff on the curriculum.
At the campus level, the other body that will contribute to the adherence of the curriculum is the campus administration (Neill, 1996, p. 38). It will be the responsibility of this body to be the instructional leader on curriculum delivery at the particular level with close monitoring of the curriculum delivery. At the lowest and most fundamental level, the teachers will have the mandate of applying the curriculum in their work areas as they interact directly with students. Owen states, “It is the responsibility of the teacher within the classroom to deliver the curriculum on a daily basis and to meet with grade level and vertical teams so that the delivery of the curriculum is both coordinated and articulated well” (1973, p. 49). Since the curriculum is developed with the intention of aiding the individual students, the teacher should assess the delivery of the curriculum to the individual students. Teachers will have the responsibility of reporting any discrepancies between the design and delivery of the curriculum with reports of any changes being reported to the central and campus administration (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein, & Pajak, 2007, p. 182).
After the curriculum establishes content standards, student performance indicators, benchmarks for grade levels, and assessment correlations (Neill, 1996, p. 32), it is necessary to formulate curriculum guides. In this curriculum, the guide will have six components. The first component is the provision of valid and clear objectives for anything to be learned in the classrooms and elsewhere. This component will then be followed by alignment to an evaluation process, pre-requisite skills, and interdisciplinary linkages (Neill, 1996, p. 32). The fifth component is an instructional tool such as supplementary materials and textbooks with the sixth being the application of different classroom strategies for the different student needs (Neill, 1996, p. 33).
Alignment to other standards
The curriculum standards developed should be aligned to local, state, and national standards according to Owen (1973, p. 72). The standards upheld by the curriculum should relate to the national standards. To ensure this requirement, the applicable national standards in all content areas of the curriculum should be applied. For the state standards, the curriculum will adopt all the essential knowledge and skills for the particular state (Owen, 1973, p. 47). Local standards are developed through community and stakeholder interactions, which should also be employed in the development of the curriculum (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein, & Pajak, 2007, p. 178). By the application of all these standards, the curriculum will guarantee a learning process that is appropriate for students at similar levels in institutions.
Determining curriculum effectiveness
The effectiveness of the curriculum must be determined regularly through a standard method. The analysis of the effectiveness of the curriculum is only appropriately done on the students since they are the primary target for the curriculum. Several measures are available. They may be applied based on preference. According to Owen, “the ability of students to work effectively on real-world applications to make connections to real-world contexts” is one of the measures that can be used for evaluation (1973, p. 49). Student motivation is also a pivotal factor in the effectiveness of a curriculum. The degree of motivation to continue learning can be another measure of determining the effectiveness of curriculum. Neill states that another parameter that can be used to measure the effectiveness of a curriculum is the “ability of the students to make conceptual connections across the content areas” (1996, p. 32). This quantity will be used to measure the effectiveness of this particular curriculum in the district. Success is another factor. Evaluation of student success after graduation from the systems and institutions can be used as a measure of curriculum success.
Strengthening the curriculum after assessment
After the assessment of the curriculum based on the suggested methods, the results and data from the assessment have to be used to strengthen and improve the curriculum. Reinforcement of the positive results has to be done with the poor performance being corrected through appropriate methods (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein, & Pajak, 2007, p. 183). In this curriculum, the assessment data should be reviewed yearly with the results being used to adjust the curriculum. In a school setup, there is a high likelihood of shortfall in the objectives of the respective levels (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein, & Pajak, 2007, p. 176). If shortfalls are established in the delivery of the objectives set by the curriculum in the school, the right adjustment needs to be done to ensure that the teaching of the objective takes place at the right time. If the assessment determines a failure in delivery and achievement of the set objectives in a single school, institution or a classroom, the campus principal is responsible for determining the changes that need to be made in the institution or the classroom (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein, & Pajak, 2007, p. 182). Another way of strengthening the curriculum is to develop it professionally or through the “use of more effective instructional strategies or provision of resources” (Owen, 1973, p. 47). Owen also states, “Peer coaching from more experienced or successful teachers may also be offered if the delivery rather than the curriculum design is determined to be the problem” (1973, p. 93).
Service Training for staff
Curriculum defines what, how, who, and when particular things are to be taught in schools. While the ‘what’ question is answered by curriculum developers, the ‘how’ question calls for training of the staff members who are essentially the implementers of the curriculum. Training is done on how to handle curriculum to make sure that students gain optimally from it with regard to achievement of knowledge and skill levels that the curriculum seeks to enhance (Neill 1996). Training of staff members on curriculum is vital since it helps them to put into practice the objectives and goals of a particular curriculum as intended by the curriculum designer and planner. Without knowing what was in the mind of the curriculum developers and designers, it is incredibly difficult for the implementers (teachers) to understand how to teach students in a manner that would lead to the precise achievement of the goals and objectives of the curriculum.
Requirements for a training program
Effective curriculum training programs need to meet various requirements. Since the main objective of the training program is to provide information to teachers on how they can effectively implement a curriculum in the effort to achieve some preset goals and missions of the curriculum, one of the essential components or the requirement is the availability of skilled trainers. Skilled trainers need to have adequate knowledge of the curriculum contents. According to Rycus, for a training program to be effective, “training participants who have the necessary baseline knowledge and motivation to learn” (2006, p. 34) are required. Training program also utilizes lots of time for trainees that would have otherwise been deployed to carry out other activates related to the work for which the trainees are employed to do: teaching. Training programs also utilize funds in transportation and or boarding during the training. Therefore, financial resources are also incredible requirements for an effective curriculum-training program.
Objectives of curriculum staff training programs
A curriculum involves an overall package designed to foster the achievement of learning activities or the realization of key educational objectives. A curriculum-training program has its central objective rested on the platforms of enhancing the achievement of teaching and learning skills by the trainees for subsequent transmission to the ultimate target of the curriculums- students. For a training program, which is competency-based, the main desired end or objective is to ensure that trainees acquire particular skills and knowledge or competencies, which are required in the day-to-day tasks of curriculum implementation (Ornstein, Behar-Horenstein & Pajak, 2007). Such an objective cuts across three main areas of concern in the administration of the training program: information and or content that is desired to be transmitted through the curriculum, training on sequencing, structuring, and formatting of curriculum teaching approaches in the classroom environment, and training methods that are deployed to effect the goal and missions of the curriculum.
Activities of curriculum staff training program
Staff training on curriculum entails a myriad of activities, which are geared towards ensuring that the trainees leave the training program well equipped to handle curriculums within their respective schools where they teach. In this regard, curriculum staff trainers need to determine the learning objectives that are to be learned in every skill or knowledge area incorporated in the curriculum. This activity involves determination of the training goals, determination of the steps necessary to realize all the goals, and determination of the areas in the curriculum that would require the curriculum implementers to learn new areas of knowledge and or skills development (Neill, 1996). Another principal activity is the determination of program training sequences that are essential for achievement of goals and objectives of the training program. Now, curriculum staff trainers need to establish methodologies that would ensure that learning objectives are attained and or whether the methodologies match the learning styles of the trainees. Another essential activity is the determination of a mechanism of determining whether curriculum-learning goals are attained or not. Arguably, this activity highlights the necessity of existence of a mechanism of evaluation of the curriculum training programs.
Evaluation of curriculum teachers training program
In a district, the evaluation of the curriculum training program focuses on the three instrumental areas. The first area entangles determination of whether indeed the training program will enable trainees to meet the standards of the curriculum set out by a given district. Secondly, it needs “to determine if students’ achievement of curriculum objectives meets or exceeds the district’s expectations” (Rycus, 2006). Lastly, evaluation helps to unveil whether indeed the training program has the impact of helping trainees to meet precisely the objectives of the curriculum. Key areas of evaluation of the effectiveness of a curriculum-training program include determination of the extent to which the trainees have developed knowledge on the curriculum competence, knowledge, and skills areas. A key means of determination of these concerns is seeking and conducting an assessment on the feedbacks of the trainees. To this end, information about what the trainees feel they have learned, what they never understood well, how they can directly apply the knowledge they have gained in the school settings, what they think the program has improved in their teaching approaches, and in what ways it is useful in conducting a successful evaluation of curriculum training programs.
In conclusion, the development of a curriculum management plan is crucial as it enables stakeholders in the learning institutions to interact effectively. The main function of imparting practical knowledge to the customers of the institution is the focus of the curriculum development, which should thus be structured in an easily applicable manner. The above curriculum management plan presented for a district discusses the components of the curriculum to be developed.
Neill, J. (1996). Effective curriculum management co-ordinating learning in the primary school. London: Routledge.
Ornstein, A., Behar-Horenstein, L., & Pajak, E. (2007). Contemporary issues in curriculum. New York: Pearson Education.
Owen, J. G. (1973). The management of curriculum development. Cambridge Eng.: University Press.
Rycus, J. (2006). Training of Trainers on Curriculum Development. New York: Pearson.
Wiles, J., & Bondi, J. (2010). Curriculum Development: A Guide to Practice. London: Pearson.