National Curriculum

The move towards Common Core State Standards and the two consortia developing assessments have led some to advocate for a common core or national curriculum, as called for by the Albert Shanker Institute in A Call for Common Content:  Core Curriculum Must Build A Bridge From Standards to Achievement.  A national curriculum would further erode local control and raises other serious issues as indicated in Closing the Door on Innovation: Why One National Curriculum is Bad for AmericaClosing the Door on Innovation is A Critical Response to the Shanker Institute Manifesto and the U.S. Department of Education’s Initiative to Develop a National Curriculum and National Assessments Based on National Standards. This response includes the following concerns:

  1. No constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula.
  2. No consistent evidence indicates that a national curriculum leads to high academic achievement.
  3. Developed national standards are inadequate for basing a national curriculum as planned by the administration.
  4. No body of evidence recommends a “best” design for curriculum sequences in any subject.
  5. No body of evidence justifies a single high school curriculum for all students.

 

Partnership Formed to Develop Digital Curriculum

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with the Pearson Foundation, the world’s largest publishing company, to create a curriculum for the nation aligned to the CCSS.  According to the Gates Foundation’s press release, it will spend $20 million to develop resources aligned to the Common Core State Standards including:

  • Game-based learning applications
  • Math, English language arts and science curricula built into digital formats
  • Learning through social networking platforms
  • Embedded assessments.

Other participants is the effort are:  Educurious Partners, Florida Virtual School, Institute of Play, Reasoning Mind, Quest Atlantis, Digital Youth Network and EDUCAUSE.

The Gates Foundation expressly admits that its intention is to align learning tools with the Common Core State Standards and “to fundamentally change the way students and teachers interact in the classroom, and ultimately, how education works in America.”

Sources:

Gates Foundation Announces Portfolio of Innovative Grants to Develop New Teaching and Learning Tools that Support Teachers and Help Students
http://www.gatesfoundation.org/press-releases/Pages/common-core-tools-110427.aspx

Foundations Join to Offer Online Courses for Schools
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/education/28gates.html?partner=rss&emc=rss