Should the whole United States have the same curriculum for each grade?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Arky, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. Arky

    Arky Comrade

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    My school has just about stopped adopting text books because they do not match our set of frameworks in any subject. If the whole United States had the same set of student learning expectations for every grade, 3rd grade would be the same across the US, for example, text book companies could write one heck of a book. Does anyone know why we all have different frameworks and do you think we should?
     
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  3. peachacid

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    This country is too large to have a national curriculum. National standards are fine, but education should be controlled at a local level. In order for the curriculum to be national, it would have to be controlled at a national level. How does someone in San Diego, CA understand the needs of a kid in Camden, Maine? How does someone in Washington DC know anything about the kids in Juneau, Alaska? There should be no national curriculum -- it takes away the ability of the teacher to tailor his/her lessons to his/her students.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Textbook companies, in my experience, have 3 editions: one for Texas, one for California, and one for the rest of the country.

    Texas and California buy textbooks in bulk, making them customers worth courting.

    I agree with Peachaid; I can't see a national curricullum meeting the needs of so huge and varied a nation.
     
  5. Arky

    Arky Comrade

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    Help me a little more because I really want to understand this. Math is math all over the US. Are different skills taught to kids in Alaska than Arkansas? Writing is writing and reading is reading. I know now that because my school has stopped adopting text books I am driving myself crazy trying to lay out lesson plans
     
  6. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    What subjects and grades really need to be tailored for specific populations? The only example I can think of is state history; each state would need its own set of standards for CA history or TX history, etc.

    For the rest, I know for example that in some states students study genetics in 7th grade and in other states they study genetics in 8th grade (and in some states they don't study it at all in middle school). Does it really matter which grade has those standards? Why could this not be set at a national level? Do students in Alaska really have different needs for learning about genetics than students in Maine? Wouldn't most other topics follow this example?
     
  7. KinderCowgirl

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    It doesn't surprise me at all that Texas would have it's own version!:p

    I also always wondered why no national curriculum. I think it would make it a lot easier on kids who moved mid-year to be able to jump in where they left off. Other than state/local history - what objectives would really be different? I know we all have different standardized tests, but the standards the kids are learning in math, reading, science - wouldn't they pretty much be the same?
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree, math is math is math.

    But when I did freelance writing for a big publisher a few years ago, I learned about the 3 different editions.

    The CA and TX editions had to allign to those state's standards. And the pictures needed to include local scenes-- the Golden Gate Bridge, for example, would be a standard on a geometry unit.

    The third edition was expected to broader, and include pictures from a variety of sources.

    I agree-- it would be a whole lot easier if we could agree, even on the elementary level, on what was important.
     
  9. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I wish there was a national curriculum. A child's needs do not really vary from state to state but between urban, suburban and rural areas. Therefore, a national curriculum would be no worse than the current curriculums in each state.
    A national curriculum would help balance education and make it easier for children moving from place to place.

    Plus, maybe it would rid each state of a few completely outrageous items they have. Here in NC, a child in 5th grade has to be able to convert Metric measurement to Customary and vice versa. Completely ridiculous for 5th grade.
     
  10. Doug_HSTeach_07

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    I don't think a couple pictures should make a difference in having a national curriculum. I think it's a great idea that would save a lot of paperwork, time, and money.
     
  11. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Well said!!:)
    A national curriculum does make a lot of sense. Just curious, does anyone know of other countries who do this, and what their curriculum looks like?
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

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    Whether the textbook adoption processes currently in place lead to books worth using is an extremely vexed question.

    Let's assume a textbook series in math - we've already agreed that math doesn't really change, yes? - that's written by people who (a) know math, (b) know how to teach math on all the grade levels for which the series is under consideration, and (c) can write gracefully and clearly about math to children at all those grade levels. (There are considerable problems in those three assumptions, too, but never mind for present purposes.)

    Drafts of the volumes in the textbook series go to the math textbook adoption committee, whose membership is also a vexed issue, but typically there will be math educators and professors of education whose brief is not necessarily math along with a sprinkling of mathematicians and parents. There will commence to be a catfight: over whether the approach should be inductive (kids discovering the principles) or not (kids being taught the principles explicitly), over whether drill is appropriate and in what quantity, over what should be mentioned at a given grade vs. covered thoroughly vs. presupposed vs. ignored, and over a variety of other issues including the proportion of text to graphics and of text to white space, the nature and scope of the glossary, the reading levels and paragraph lengths, on down to the representation and distribution of ethnicities, genders, occupations, and family makeups in word problems.

    (For those who don't know it, California is a good deal more heterogeneous politically than shows like 90210 or The O.C. (does anyone who ever lived there really call Orange County that??) might lead you to believe.)

    The committee makes its "recommendations" for changes - to be precise, the different constitutuencies on the committee make recommendations, not all of which are consistent with each other. The book then goes back to the publisher, who - because California is such a huge market - will go to great lengths to accommodate at least those recommendations that seemed to have the loudest voices behind them.

    The texts that result may bear very little resemblance to the originals, and the writing will almost certainly have been denatured out of recognition.

    A national curriculum? It is to laugh.
     
  13. DallasTeacher

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    The United States is a republic and as such has a strong basis in state and local rights. I do not want someone in Austin, Texas telling me what to teach my students in Dallas, Texas, much less someone in Washington, D.C. The whole concept of taxation and representation is based upon control. Monies to pay for schools in Texas are collected at the local level. As such, the school board is accountable to the local residents. In my opinion, the federal government has no business in education except to protect student rights.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

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    And this also is a conviction very widely held: proponents of a national curriculum will have a dreadful time getting past it.
     
  15. DallasTeacher

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    I don't know about California, but I do know that Texas doesn't buy in bulk. We are, as California is also, a state that adopts various textbooks and the LOCAL school district then chooses which (if any of the state approved books) they will use. The recent math adoption had approximately 7 or 8 different series in which local districts could choose from. In our district, the teachers received books from various companies in which to choose their "favorite." They voted online and our district then notified the company of their choice. The state allocates a specific number of dollars for textbooks and materials.

    Our district currently uses Open Court in K-5th grade. Open Court was NOT state approved and the district made a choice to use local budget monies to purchase.

    Texas being an "adoption" state only means that the various textbook committees present to a committee and don't have to run across the state to every single school district presenting their books.
     
  16. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I support a national curriculum with some flexibility. We should have national standards (aside from a select area or two) and sets of specific skills students should be taught at each grade level. What could remain flexible is the teaching programs and textbooks selected to teach these areas. Having word problems for kids in Alaska might take a different turn than one created for students in New York City. While we should all be exposed, we do have different needs across the country. At the end of the day though, because we are a mobile society, we need more a more standard approach.
     
  17. RainStorm

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    Having a national curriculum gets into the entire state vs. federal government issue -- and our country was based on the premise that states have the right to govern themselves in terms of education.

    I don't want some federal person writing the guidelines for the entire country in terms of education. If you think our federal government would do a great job of it, just think about NCLB!!!!!!! Wasn't that a lovely federal way of looking at education? (sarcasim intented)

    I think each district should do what it feels is best based on the state guidelines, and the states should do what they feel is best based on federal guidelines.

    I know that many states in our country have much lower standards in terms of education. I know there are some states that have higher standards than ours. I would not be happy if we adopted national standards, because I feel quite sure they would be lower than what our state requires. I also feel quite sure that would lead to nationalized testing, which I strongly oppose.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    You might get some agreement on the math issue- 1 plus 1 equals 2 in all states...Textbooks and method of instruction varies greatly though from district to district...and it should based on district, school and teacher philosophies of how to best teach their local students...
    Science and social studies, however, varies state by state- and should...In New Jersey, students study the Lenne Lenape Indians, native habitats and species- a national curriculum wouldn't allow that state and local experience in these content areas.
    You may feel that reading is reading and writing is writing but hve you ever compared a basal based reading program to a 'reading and writing workshop' program? The lessons and teaching look VASTLY different. Local school districts should be able to make decisions based on their philosophies of education.

    I've been teaching in a district for the past 8 years in which there IS NO textbook adoption. Teachers are given state and local curriculum guides and are given the freedom to interpret those and deliver instruction using their own creativity...It's much harder than "turning to today's page in the teacher's edition", that I'll grant you. It is, however, at least for me, much more rewarding, energizing and dynamic.
     
  19. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    The problem I have is seeing military "brats" shipped across the country and have their transcript not be good enough and have to take extra classes to fill in any gaps the school "feels" appropriate. This came up in the Army Family Action Plan Conference last year and was selected as a top issue by the youth delegate group.
     
  20. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I'm not advocating that we should be strict about HOW we teach or what kind of educational philosophy we have, etc. What I'm saying is let's set a standard that multiplication facts up to x number is taught in 3rd grade. Students should know X skill in X grade. I don't care HOW it is taught. The important thing is that it is taught. My examples are vague but I'm having trouble coming up with something at the moment.
     
  21. WaProvider

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    /
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  22. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I am Canadian, but we deal with the same issue here. It drove me crazy as a student because I lived in three different provinces, including moving from one province to another for grade 12...

    My sister moved from Ontario to Manitoba between grades 2 and 3... because of this, she missed out on cursive writing in both provinces, and still was expected to do ALL her assignments in cursive... she spent her whole year after school working on learning cursive writing... this type of thing happens all the time when students move between provinces (or in your case, between states)... yeah, I understand that it's a states rights issue, but for what purpose? Because that's the way it's always been?

    I do agree though, that topics like social studies, geography and history should come from a province/state point of view, but literacy, math and science for instance should be fine with national standards.
     
  23. KinderCowgirl

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    Correct me if I'm wrong - but by curriculum we are saying a national set of standards - objectives, right? Teachers would still have an opportunity to take that objective and teach it the way they wanted to - or am I misunderstanding?

    And the objectives could be broad in saying - learn about local Native American history or landmarks for Social Studies and still be relevant to everyone.

    Rainstorm - I see what you are saying about the different states and their standing in education but personally (and don't call me a Socialist or anything) I don't think kids who live in "better" areas should be getting a different education than everyone else. Don't all kids deserve an opportunity for the best education regardless of where they live. You could always do more based on your own expectations, that's what we do now at our school.
     
  24. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    As the proud mom of two former military 'brats', I never experienced any problems with my kids moving from one state to another in terms of education. Sure, my one son learned a great deal about pirates and the Indians at Jamestown when we lived in the Virginia Beach area instead of the Lenne Lenape Indians my younger son learned about in New Jersey, but the experience of travel, the varied learning experiences and the flexibility my children acquired over our military years more than made up for any gaps (of which there really weren't any...)

    AND PS...Nationalized ANYTHING is rarely highly efficient or effective-You've read the NCLB thread, right? :dizzy:
     
  25. Arky

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    It is because of the NCLB that we need national standards as long as we have to adhere to such testing standards IMHO.
    And CzaCza you think the way it is set up now it is highly effective? If it had been effective the way we were doing it with different standards for each state why was NCLB needed? Why are we always trying to teach a better way? That will always be the case regardless of who writes the standards, national or state.
     
  26. DallasTeacher

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    No, it hasn't always been that way. At one point in time in our history, we were colonies under ENGLAND. States rights were a direct result of the rule of England. The colonies had little say over their rules. They were taxed by England due to its war expenses and the interest of the colonies weren't represented. A Declaration of Independence was signed and much blood shed over the issue of states rights. It's one of the bedrocks of our republic.

    Private schools also wouldn't have to abide by any "national" mandate.
     
  27. midwestteacher

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    Well, I teach agriculture and I can tell you that agriculture varies greatly within my state. I can't imagine even beginning to address this on a nationwide level. Why should I be teaching about burly tobacco production when they only raised flue cured tobacco in these parts? Why would dairy production be an issue for me when the nearest dairy farms in hundreds of miles away.
    Our state also requires students to take a financial management class to graduate. They are learning items such as budgeting, tax laws, credit issues, home buying, etc. Laws regarding these topics vary widely from state to state and can't really be taught in some "one size fits all" curriculum.
     
  28. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    My school and my state are highly effective. We don't need additional bureaucracy at the national level to improve schools- we need more effective local educational leaders: school boards willing to provide the resources teachers need, administrators (like mine) who support teachers as professionals, teachers who are highly educated, qualified, and ongoing learners.
     
  29. ELA 11 12

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    There should be a national curriculum for each grade level.

    One third should be exactly the same. The second third should focus on the same benchmarks but allow professional freedom on how it is taught. The last third should be up the to teacher.
     
  30. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I would agree to that.
     
  31. peggy27

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    I know in fourth grade and 7th grade our students learn about the history and the state of Utah. I doubt the rest of the country wants to know about the Pioneers.
    We have state standards that we are to teach in every grade. We only have textbooks for math and science so it doesn't matter if we learn the same as the rest of the country.

    I agree with Czacza, less federal control the better.
     
  32. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I don't think that the whole United states should have the same curriculum for each grade level in every subject. Obviously, math is going to math no matter where you live. Science is going to be science no matter where you live. I think social studies should be the only thing that should be state to state as each state has its own history.
     
  33. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Yes, I agree that's one of those flexible areas.
     
  34. TeacherGroupie

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    So what about specifying that, say, fourth grade is the grade for state history?
     
  35. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    That's a good idea, TG, because then if a student moves, they know that if they are entering or in the 4th grade, they'll be studying state history. The content area should be uniform, just the specific standards would change.
     
  36. Darkhorse

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    This is my opinion exactly for why we should have national standards. I moved from NV to CO five years ago and there is a huge difference in the education systems between the two states and the tests that they give. Yet we are being funded and rated at a national level when the playing field is not equal.

    CO does not even have state standards, as it is illegal per the state constitution. :confused: Instead we have "model" content standards; what the standards should be if we ever made them legal. (I'm serious) I love the state I live in but the education systems in CO are really a joke by comparison. The state CSAP tests are a joke by comparison, too. Yet we are compared to other states at a national level.

    I don't understand why we can't have national standards that say when certain topics should be covered at certain grades. Of course someone in Utah is not going to be teaching about the state of South Carolina, but what is the problem with saying that state's history is to be taught in 4th grade? Why are we arguing whether things should be teacher centered or student centered, when no one agrees on that at the state level either? That has nothing to do with it. Schools would still be able to choose their own math series or to teach the material however they want as long as the material is taught.

    It just bugs me that things are not equal between states when we are all being funded and graded based on that inequality. If NCLB is to continue then it should be with national standards.

    BTW, private schools don't have to abide by state standards any more than they would have to abide by national standards so that is a moot point.
     
  37. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    In math, English and parts of science and social studies it would be nice to have an overall benchmark or scope and sequence.
    By this grade you need to be able to.... in math and english... this grade to this grade you should learn about local sciency things.... this grade you should be doing us history , world history, government, state history... A basic guide rather than strict objectives - at least then if they did switch schools it would be at little more coherent. Highschool years (at least the last two) might be able to be more elective in selection, but early years would be awesome to have something standard.
     
  38. shouldbeasleep

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    There are plenty of national standards offered by organizations such as National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Each state, I would think, use these guidelines when creating their state standards.

    I sincerely doubt there will be anything more specific than guidelines.

    And why is it assumed that Calif. and Texas are the only states with specific textbooks geared towards their states? Georgia is offered textbooks rewritten for our standars. The Science book we used discusses erosion and uses Stone Mountain and coastal Georgia for examples.
     
  39. Hoot Owl

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    In my city, there's four districts each serving distinctively different cultures, populations, ideologies, expectations, staffs, school boards, salaries, and economic levels.

    We're obviously all in the same state with the same standards but each district interprets the standards accordingly and serves their students based on what their needs are. One of the districts is in academic distress all the time and another district scores in the top 10 of the state year after year, they border each other! One district has a huge population of professional parents, many with Phds. and the other has more than a majority of free lunch kids. The standards work because they're flexible, but if you have kids moving around there's a vast difference between school A and school B.
     

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