Transcript of "Debra Watkins, Dissertation, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Dissertation Chair, PVAMU/Member of the Texas A&M University System"
EFFECTS OF AN INTEGRATED CURRICULUM MODEL CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Alice, speaking to Cheshire cat: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. “So long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation. “Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.” (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, 1865) Education without a cohesive framework and plan for achievement is a reflectionof the directionless Cheshire cat who seems to believe that no matter which direction youchoose, you will always arrive at an appropriate destination. For the Cheshire cat thiswas sufficient; however, for educators this philosophy applied to education is not enough.Analogous to Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, educational leaders must have adefinitive understanding of the purpose of education and a clear plan and educationaldirective on best practice methods for the academic classroom. Without a directed set ofacademic purposes, goals, and objectives, the educational system will emerge into ameaningless metaphor of repetitive exercises, rote assignments, and memorization tasksthat do not tie into any interaction, assimilation, or understanding of the real everydayworld in which the students live. Through an understanding of how students cansuccessfully be engaged in the learning process, educators can enable their classroomprodigies to be productive and successful students in the classroom.
2Purposeful Education Educational leaders must have a purposeful, educational goal in teachingAmerica’s youth that will fortify sound judgment, independent thinking, and a programof learning that will encourage analytical thinking and real-world applications to thelearning process. There must be a sound curriculum philosophy in place to facilitate aframework and structure for learning that will enable students from all backgrounds andlearning abilities to have the opportunity to learn purposefully and meaningfully in orderto reach their highest and best potential. While many curriculum philosophies exist,determining which philosophy and structure will best suit the academic needs of aparticular district or school is left to the judgment of school leaders which may include acombination of the elected school board, district and campus administrators, andprofessional educators in the classroom. It is important that each generation be allowed to receive and gain the knowledgenecessary to participate in a democratic and free society. Teaching students to synthesizeknowledge and apply their findings to real-world problems and scenarios is critical toboth personal and professional success in the students’ lives. The ability to see the endresults, goals, and destinations for educationally reforming programs is a criticalcomponent of academic leadership and change within the educational community.Proverbs 29:18, states that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Vision istherefore an important component of learning and the educational process. Schoolleaders must be focused and visionary in the development of goals and objectives in theeducational process. Ayn Rand has stated that “throughout the centuries there were menwho took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision” (Rand,
31964, p. 64). Visionary pioneers, especially those involved in education, can pave theway for dramatic and effective change in the educational system. History has shown thatwithout a strong vision of outcome related goals for a curriculum, the effectiveness andbenefits of a curriculum model will not meet the expectations or goals a district sets forits students personal and cooperative academic achievements.Curriculum Choice: Guidelines and Objectives Choosing a curriculum that will nourish and intellectually challenge a diverse andever changing school population is a challenging and daunting task. Educational leadersmust ensure that what is being taught in the classroom will sufficiently prepare theirstudents to succeed academically and to think critically across the boundaries of allsubject areas. While a case can be made for the effectiveness and practice of sound andcreative pedagogy classroom techniques, the ultimate test for a school or district is toassess whether or not students are learning and being successful in the mastery ofacademic subject matter and classroom requirements. The responsibility for ensuring that all students achieve their maximum academicpotential is a daunting task for both educational administrators and classroom teachers.With unique challenges on the forefront of our nation’s cultural and historical paradigm,educational leaders including superintendents, principals, and curriculum directors mustbe well versed on best practices and effective educational models for student success. As curriculum reform moves from the portals of the White House to the boardrooms of America’s corporations and finally to the schools and classrooms across ournation, what our students achieve in the school setting is paramount to the safety, wellbeing, and economic freedoms currently enjoyed in our free and democratic society. A
4thorough understanding of what is taught in the classroom and why it is taught isfundamental to the overall well being of our entire educational system. Especially in thearea of state and federal accountability, “the heavy emphasis on testing andaccountability has refocused attention on underperforming subgroups but also has createdincentives that drive curriculum and instruction in the classroom” (Sunderman, Orfield &Kim, 2006, p. 20). The new accountability standards require that what is taught in theclassroom be logically integrated into verifiable results such as reflected on achievementand accountability tests measured by the Texas Academic Knowledge and Skills(TAKSTM) test administered annually in Texas state schools. The emphasis of highstudent achievement and accountability made by state and national legislators highlightsthe importance of the curriculum. To meet the challenges and goals mandated bygovernment officials, a sound curriculum philosophy must be embraced in order tochoose and implement the best and most appropriate curriculum model in the classroom. Statement of the Problem High schools are the breeding ground for the next generation of society’s leadersand workforce. However, “the American high school is an anachronism. The currentAmerican high school system fails in satisfying the demands placed upon it by all sectorsof American society in all classes, regions, and ethnicities” (Botstein, 2006, p. 16).Emerging technologies, world wide communications, and the sophistication of a newgeneration require that educators meet the challenge of effectively educating thisgeneration to ensure that real learning and academic achievement occurs in theschool setting.
5 How and what students are taught in the classroom should be considered as thenumber one priority for today’s school leaders and school systems. Based on the currentchallenges faced by educators who must support and implement a curriculum model, it isevident that our educational system is in need of revitalization. The academic standardsand learning mastery of our students are significantly lagging behind other nations,encrypting upon our society a new recognition of the need to educate our students at alevel conducive with the requirements and demands of a global, 21st century workingenvironment. Without a strong and educated populace, our nation’s strength and politicalvirility will be endangered. Educators who are cognizant of the worth and value of astrong, substantive education must ensure that true learning and content mastery of thecurriculum is achieved and prioritized in the classroom. Those who succeed in learningwill ultimately have the tools and knowledge needed to successfully compete and work inthe 21st century workplace. The benefits of succeeding academically not only have an educational component,but also a political impact on society. Educating a nation’s population is critical to thepillars of democracy and freedom. If our schools, in particular our high schools, are notable to compete academically in a global market, the reality is sinking in: “Our nation’soutdated high school expectations jeopardize our future” (Vanderark, 2006, p. 34). Acknowledging the fact that curriculum plays a major role in student academicachievement, there is a need to address the foundational core and fortress of all studentlearning, the curriculum and its effect on student learning and academic achievement.Based on the premise that the curriculum is the framework upon which student learning is
6accomplished, the issue of concern and statement of the problem to be addressed in thisstudy can be articulated as follows: “Is there a difference in student academicachievement based on the type of curriculum model used in the school setting to preparestudents for academic achievement and success?” Research Questions The focus of this study was to determine if there was a difference in academicachievement between schools which utilize a Realms of Meaning (ROM) curriculumphilosophy based on an integrated curriculum model as compared to those schools whichdo not utilize a ROM curriculum philosophy in the classroom. In addition a qualitativeportion of this study was also implemented which analyzed the perceptions of teachers onthe overall perceptions, risks, and benefits of teachers who utilize the CSCOPETMcurriculum model, a curriculum model which exhibits similar characteristics andphilosophies as the ROM curriculum philosophy, in the classroom. Schools which havebeen identified as those schools whose curriculum model exhibits a Realms of Meaningcurriculum philosophy have been designated as Realms of Meaning (ROM) schools.Schools whose curriculum models have not been identified as exhibiting characteristicsof the ROM curriculum philosophy were designated as non-Realms of Meaning (non-ROM) schools. This research has been guided by the following quantitative andqualitative research questions and null hypotheses.Quantitative Research Questions1. Is there a difference in the 11th grade overall group mathematics TAKSTM scores between schools that implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model and schools that do not implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model?
72. Is there a difference in the 11th grade overall group English language arts TAKSTM scores between schools that implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model and schools that do not implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model?3. Is there a difference in the 11th grade overall group science TAKSTM scores between schools that implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model and schools that do not implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model?4. Is there a difference in the 11th grade overall social studies TAKSTM scores between schools that implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model and schools that do not implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model?5. To what capacity as reported by classroom teachers on the Teacher Curricula Perceptions Instrument are CSCOPETM high schools functioning as Realms of Meaning schools?Qualitative Research QuestionsThis study answered the following qualitative research questions.6. What are the perceptions of classroom teachers of the overall CSCOPETM (ROM) curriculum in the classroom?7. What perceptions do teachers have regarding the benefits and/or risks of implementing the CSCOPE TM (ROM) curriculum model?Null Hypotheses The following null hypotheses were developed in order to answer questions onethrough four as listed above.H01: There is no statistically significant difference in the 11th grade overall group mathematics TAKSTM scores between schools that implement the Realms of
8 Meaning curriculum model and schools that do not implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model.H02: There is no statistically significant difference in the 11th grade overall group English language arts TAKSTM scores between schools that implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model and schools that do not implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model.H03: There is no statistically significant difference in the 11th grade overall group science TAKSTM scores between schools that implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model and schools that do not implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model.H04: There is no statistically significant difference in the 11th grade overall group social studies TAKSTM scores between schools that implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model and schools that do not implement the Realms of Meaning curriculum model. Purpose of the Study It is incumbent upon all educational leaders who oversee instruction to be awareof how curriculum models and curricular philosophies affect student academicachievement. Using this central idea as the context for this investigation, the rationale forthis study was based on the premise that a curriculum philosophy based on the Ways ofKnowing through the Realms of Meaning leads to an integrated curriculum which leads tostudent academic achievement. In line with the specific goals and educational directivesof any organization, any successful curriculum model must “deepen insight intorelationships, and to counteract the provincialism of customary existence-in short, to
9engender a meaningful integrated outlook” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 5). Therefore, thepurpose of this study was to analyze the effect on an integrated curriculum model onstudent academic achievement based on the Ways of Knowing through the Realms ofMeaning. The components of this study were four-fold and included the followingobjectives : (1) to identify schools that are Realms of Meaning schools, (2) to discover ifstudent achievement is impacted because of the school’s status as a Realms of Meaningschool, (3) to understand the perceptions of classroom teachers and educational leaderson their view of the effectiveness of the Realms of Meaning curriculum model in theclassroom, and (4) to understand the benefits and/or risks of implementing the Realms ofMeaning curriculum model in the classroom. Significance of the Study The importance of this study lies in the fact that by understanding the similaritiesand differences of student academic achievement in relationship to the effectiveness ofthe curriculum model used in the classroom, educational leaders will be able to utilize thefindings of this study to aid in the determination of the type of curriculum model thatyields the highest capital gains in the form of educational collateral and student learning:“Whether we consider curriculum narrowly as a listing of subjects to be taught in schoolsor broadly as experiences that individuals require for full and authentic participation insociety, there is no denying that curriculum affects us all, both those within the field, theeducators and curricularists of various stripes, and those in the general society” (Ornstein& Hunkins, 2004, p. 1). As educational and psychological researchers seek to uncoverthe mysteries of learning and student success, studies such as “Educational leadership
10directives: Analyzing the effect of an integrated curriculum model on student academicachievement based on the Ways of Knowing through the Realms of Meaning” canultimately add to the body of knowledge of student achievement and success and providecreative answers and program opportunities for educational communities and schooldistricts on the local, state, and national level: Today the focus on education at all levels and for students of all abilities is increasingly upon excellence and adequacy of knowledge. Today it is recognized that knowledge does not belong to specialists alone, but that, through general education, understanding of a high order can and should be available to everyone. (Kritsonis, 2007, p. vii) Through an integrated curriculum learning system as evidenced through the Waysof Knowing through the Realms of Meaning curriculum philosophy, students have theopportunity to incorporate learning and demonstrate academic achievement and masteryin required subject matter presented in a more holistic, viable, and challenging manner.This study will be particularly important for colleges and universities in that howcurriculum choice is taught in teacher preparation programs will structure the educationalphilosophies for teacher leaders and future administrators for generations to come. Inaddition, school districts will benefit from this research in that they will have theopportunity to utilize this study to make sound and reliable researched based decisionsregarding a district’s selection and implementation of the curriculum. This study is also important because of the high accountability placed oneducational institutions in regards to how students learn and achieve. Nationally, one ofthe most significant forms of federal accountability has been developed and outlined by
11federally mandated goals and accountability standards through the No Child Left BehindAct 2001 (NCLB). Educators are faced with going beyond the previous prescriptivecurriculum frameworks in order to strengthen and deepen a student’s ability to achieveand academically succeed. Therefore, understanding how the curriculum affects studentlearning is paramount in the discussion and study of factors which influence and createlearning opportunities and meaningful educational paradigms for students. In Texas, accountability for learning has been defined through the administrationand implementation of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKSTM) test.TAKSTM testing in Texas has been and continues to be one of the significant instrumentsthat define a school’s excellence (in regards to student achievement) and/or the lack ofsuch progress. The TAKSTM test determines not only a school’s academic rating andstanding in the state, but also whether or not a general education student will ultimatelybe able to complete his or her education by graduating from high school. Knowing howto prepare students for the level and depth of learning necessary to do well on this test iscritical not only to Texas school districts and local campuses, but also to future nationalacademic studies and research projects that seek to find better ways to acclimate studentachievement and success. To engender this high level of learning expectation, Kritsonishas stated that the Realms of Meaning curriculum philosophy is significant to teachers inthat this philosophy can be useful for leaders in education throughout the United Sates and abroad. This will definitely be useful to students of education, teachers, school administrators, professors of education, scholars in artsand sciences, and other professional workers in education . . . this
12will have something to offer any person, in formal education oroutside of it, who seeks perspective on knowledge in the modern world andwho is in search of order and meaning in his own life. (Kritsonis, 2007,p. xi) By analyzing an orderly and systematic approach to education, this studyperpetuates the assumption that not only students will benefit from the application ofthese strategies, but teachers and administrators will also benefit from a structuredlearning environment and curriculum that provides an educational framework for learningthat stimulates student learning and academic success. A major facet of the importance of this study lies in the fact that the research andresults of this investigation will be able to contribute to the national body of literature andresearch that seeks to expand the rigor and relevance of curriculum implementation to allschools and academic classrooms. The outcome of this study will potentially have farreaching effects in that school leaders operating on the national, district, and campuslevels will have data based research to guide district and campus decision makers on themost appropriate curriculum and learning models to use on their campuses. Through this study, school districts will be able to make intelligent decisions onthe most effective curriculum models that can best enhance and provide effective learningopportunities for all students. Findings from this investigative study will also add to theliterature on curriculum implementation and delivery. The research conclusions of thisstudy will provide a basis for others who may choose to research or study the impacts ofcurriculum on a student’s learning and overall academic achievement and success inother grade levels, subject areas, or teaching environments.
13 AssumptionsThe following assumptions have been made and pertain to this study.1. Comparative benchmark data for student achievement will be based on the scores from the 2008 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and SkillsTM(TAKSTM) test administered to 11th grade students in Texas classrooms in thesubject areas of math, English, science, and social studies.1. All data gathered from the TAKSTM test will be factual and accurately reported.3. Schools have been correctly identified as using the CSCOPETM curriculum model based on a CSCOPETM participant list generated by a participating CSCOPETM Educational Service Center (ESC) in the spring of 2008.4. Teachers interviewed will have varying degrees of knowledge and career experiences.5. Teachers participating in the study will hold the necessary licensing credentials to be certified in the state of Texas.6. Teachers implementing the ROM curriculum model will do so effectively and in the parameters required for successful ROM curriculum implementation.7. The instrument used to gather data for this study will be completed correctly and within the prescribed time period of this study.8. Teachers who respond to the qualitative instrument will be forthcoming, objective, and truthful in their responses.9. The participant’s responses in this study will be accurately coded. Limitations of the Study
14 Limitations of the study will include the following observations and expectations.These limitations were considered in conducting this research and in analyzing the finalresults and statistics manifested in this study.1. Not every teacher surveyed will respond to the Teacher Curricula Perceptions Instrument and complete the open ended questions.2. Teachers interviewed will have varying degrees of knowledge and commitment to the ROM curriculum model.3. Not all teachers have been with the school district during the time period specified for this study and therefore would not have as much experience utilizing the ROM model as potentially others would in their district who have used this model before.4. School districts implementing a curriculum model with parallel curriculum philosophies based on the fundamental principles of the Ways of Knowing through the Realms of Meaning will use the curriculum in various degrees and intensity depending on the needs of the individual student and local school district.5. School districts initially using the ROM curriculum model may choose to discontinue using this product.6. Non-ROM schools will potentially be using varied and unrelated curriculum models thereby giving no consistent basis on what curriculum factors are affecting learning in the non-ROM being evaluated for this study.
157. CSCOPETM, a relatively new curriculum model, is developing each year with new additions and attributes to the model based on past student academic successes or needs and therefore is an emerging curriculum model. Delimitations of the Study The following choices were made by the researcher in regards to the population,sample size, and instrument used in this study. Delimitations of the study are as follows:1. The study was limited by the researcher to a study population composed only of those schools that have implemented the CSCOPETM model in their classrooms for at least one academic school year and are considered to be ROM curriculum model schools as determined by the criteria set forth in this study.2. Teachers ultimately implement and experience the values of the curriculum on a first hand day to day basis; therefore, teachers from ROM schools were the only professionals surveyed regarding their perceptions and experiences of the risks and benefits of implementing a ROM curriculum model in the classroom.3. Teachers interviewed for the qualitative portion of the test were only those teachers in a ROM curriculum model school who have taught at least one of the four academic core subject areas (mathematics, English language arts, science and social studies) at the 11th grade academic level in high school and have been recommended or identified by their campus principal, district superintendent, or curriculum director.
16 Definition of Terms To facilitate a better understanding of the terms utilized in this study, thefollowing definitions are provided to provide a deeper understanding of the meanings ofterms and definitions that are applicable to this research.assessment – “The giving and using of feedback against standards to enable improvement and the meeting of goals” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 6).backward design – “An approach to designing a curriculum or unit that begins with the end in mind and designs toward the end” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 338).curriculum – “Any document or plan that exists in a school or school system that defines the work of teachers, at least to the extent of identifying the content to be taught children and the methods to be used in the process” (English, 2003, p. 2).curriculum coordination – “Refers to the extent of the focus and connectivity present laterally within a school or a school district” (English, 2003, p. 3).curriculum delivery – “Any act of implementing, supervising, monitoring, or using feedback to improve the curriculum once it has been created and put into place in schools” (English, 2003, p. 3). curriculum design – “The act of creating the curriculum for schools. This may involve the purchase of textbooks (one kind of work plan and curriculum) and/or the writing of curriculum guides (another kind of work plan)” (English, 2003, p. 3). empirics – “Includes the sciences of the physical world, of living things, and of man. These sciences provide factual descriptions, generalizations, and theoretical formulations and explanations that are based upon observation and
17 experimentation in the world of matter, life, mind, and society” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 12).esthetics – “Contains the various arts such as music, the visual arts, the arts of movement, and literature. Meanings in this realm are concerned with the contemplative perception of particular significant things as unique objectifications of ideated subjectivities” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 12).ethics – “Includes moral meanings that express obligation rather than fact, perceptual form, or awareness of relation. In contrast to the sciences, which are concerned with abstract cognitive understanding, to the arts, which express idealized esthetic perceptions, and to personal knowledge, which reflects intersubjective understanding, morality has to do with personal conduct that is based on free, responsible, deliberate decision” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 13).intelligence – “The ability to think abstractly and to learn readily from experience” (Kritsonis, Griffith, Bahrim, Marshall, Herrington, Hughes, and Brown, 2008, p. 125).No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 – An act “to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility and choice that no child is left behind” (Public Law 107-110, January 8, 2002).pedagogy – The “science and art of teaching” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 104).pedagogical parallelism – “Refers to the notion that classroom teachers create an alternative but parallel environment in which their students not only learn what is on the test, but learn more. The teachers go deeper than the tested curriculum content” (English & Steffey, 2001, p. 97).
18standardized test – “A test that is administered, scored, and interpreted the same every time and place it is used” (Gay & Airasian, 2003, p. 592).symbolics – “Comprises ordinary language, mathematics, and various types of nondiscursive symbolic forms, such as gestures, rituals, rhythmic patterns, and the like. These meanings are contained in arbitrary symbolic structures, with socially accepted rules of formation and transformation, created as instruments for the expression and communication of any meaning whatsoever” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 11).synnoetics –“Embraces what Michael Polanyi calls ‘personal knowledge’ and Martin Buber the ‘I-Thou’ relation. The novel term synnoetics was devised because no existing concept appeared adequate to the type of understanding intended. It derives from the Greek synoesis meaning ‘meditative thought,’ and this in turn is a component of the root syn, meaning ‘with,’ ‘together,’ and noesis, meaning ‘cognition.’ It may apply to other persons, to oneself, or εϖεν to things” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 12).synoptics – “Refers to meanings that are comprehensively integrative. This realm includes history, religion, and philosophy. These disciplines combine empirical, esthetic, and synnoetic meanings into coherent wholes” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 13).Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKSTM) – Statewide assessment program developed in 2003 and mandated by Senate Bill 103 during the 76th Texas Legislative Session. (Texas Education Agency, 2001, p. 39)
19understanding – “To make connections and bind together our knowledge into something that makes sense of ‘things’ whereas without understanding we might see only unclear, isolated, or unhelpful facts” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 6). Organization of the Study This study is comprised of five chapters. Chapter I includes the introduction,statement and background of the problem, research questions, limitations, definitions ofthe problem, and an overview of the study. A comprehensive review of the literature ispresented and discussed in Chapter II. Chapter III consists of the data collectionmethods, procedures, protocols, instrumentation, and data analysis necessary to completethis study. Chapter IV reports on the findings of the study and includes the quantitativeand qualitative results of the study. Chapter V offers a summary of the findings andconclusions generated through this study. Recommendations for future studies are alsoincluded in this chapter.
20 CHAPTER II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Overview The world we now live in has changed dramatically from the world of ourgrandfathers and great grandfathers from times past: “Unlike the industrial age, the 21stcentury requires all workers to master skills our schools previously considered necessaryonly for top students” (Vanderark, 2006, p. 34). In today’s highly competitive society,“today’s young people must be critical thinkers, decision makers, and problem solverswith a solid foundation in basic skills” (Vanderark, 2006, p. 24). Our current educationalsystem is performing adequately if the standards of the past are used in comparison.However, when compared to the demands and challenges of the 21st century, our highschools are “preparing roughly one-third of students for college” (Vanderark, 2006, p.34). To address these issues and prepare students for success in the real world, “we needa new unifying mission-not just for high schools but for public education” (Vanderark,2006, p. 34). For educators, the unifying mission of academia is to provide a soundstructure and framework for learning. This framework can be found in the selection andimplementation of a rigorous and effective model for curriculum and curriculum study.Curriculum, therefore, becomes the central component of all educational work andactivity in the classroom. With the onset of so many curricular choices, Jerome Bruner’s(1977) challenge of educational priority sets the stage for all foundational questions andconcerns regarding the curriculum taught and presented in today’s schools. His simple,but profound statement, “What shall we teach and to what end?” (Bruner, p.1) is at the
21core of all educational discourse regarding educational philosophy, curriculum, and thelearning process. To understand where we are going in the educational process, it is important tonote where we have been. Understanding the development of our current educationalsystem can help educational leaders and providers learn from both the failures andsuccesses of past generations in order to design and implement a framework for learningthat will enhance student academic achievement in the classroom. Historical Foundations of Learning Knowledge, education, and the application of learning have been fundamental tothe well-being of not only our students, but also our own democracy as well. Our nationhas been founded upon the premise that “education is the cornerstone to life anddemocracy and is purposeful in that it is the means of perpetuating culture fromgeneration to generation” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 5). History has recorded that as early as theage of the Spartans, educational goals were to “promote patriotism and train warriors”(Kritsonis, 2002, p. 24). Beginning in the 19th century, the Common School movement(1837-1848) prescribed that education would be important and could accomplish thegoals of “political enlightenment, common values, and loyalties [and] job skills”(Kritsonis, 2002, p. 25). Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States andauthor of the Declaration of Independence, “laid the foundation for public education inthe United States with the introduction of his ‘Bill for the More General Diffusion ofKnowledge’ ”(Kritsonis, 2002, p 29). This bill laid the foundation for providingfundamental core educational opportunities for all students regardless of their race, creed,national origin, or socio-economic status. With this bill, it became more evident that
22educators would need to be cognizant of the fact that there would be diverse learners inthe classroom; therefore, new strategies and curriculum models would be needed to meetthe demands of the new federal mandates for public education. The development of a curriculum model and learning system became morepronounced as educators, government leaders, and researchers saw the need to establish amore pertinent and well-rounded curriculum model designed to meet the needs of boththe participating students and their communities. After World War I, the NationalEducation Association’s Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education in1918 issued its own report emphasizing the need for “(1) health (2) command offundamental processes (3) worthy home membership (4) vocational education (5) civiceducation, (and) (6) worthy use of leisure and ethical character” (Ornstein & Hunkins,2004, p. 274). This early 20th century outline prescribed a formula for learning thatemphasized the learning needs and values of students attending America’s classroom inthe midst of traumatic world wide events and universal changes within the boundaries ofthe United States itself. After World War I and following the Great Depression, the “Purpose ofEducation in American Democracy” report was introduced that challenged schools toencourage “inquiry, mental capabilities, speech, reading, writing, numbers, sight andhearing, health knowledge, health habits, public health, recreation, intellectual interests,aesthetic interests, and character formation” (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2004, p. 275). In1944, at the close of World War II, educational goals were concerned about “democracyand world citizenship, as well as those related to the general needs of children and youth”(Ornstein & Hunkins, 2004, p. 275). Each of these acts reflected on how the nation
23responded to the educational challenges and needs of their constituents based on theworld environment and the needs of the nation for a literate, educated, and informedpopulace. Educators, politicians, and civic leaders continued to write legislation and newreforms to upgrade the quality of education and the benefits to the students involved inthe process. The infamous Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka Kansas, 347 U.S. 4831954 ruling “declared separate inherently unequal and mandated school desegregation”(Kritsonis, 2002, p. 26). Providing equality in education was a significant step towardsequalizing and improving the nation’s overall educational programs and goals. Sputnik was a major turning point in U.S. educational policies and discourse. Theimpetus for this reform was the Soviet Union’s successful launch of an artificial satelliteinto orbit. The American competitive spirit did not want its nation to be left behind in thescientific and cultural revolution underway because of new and growing technologies inthe world market. Renewed interest in higher level thinking skills and applicationabilities directly resulted in America’s desire to compete effectively in the global worldmarket. Almost three decades after Sputnik another report surfaced challenging theefficacy and effectiveness of America’s schools and educational systems. In one of themost disturbing reports here to date relating to the condition of the American educationalschool system, A Nation at Risk (1983) shocked both the political, educational, andgeneral citizenry of this country regarding the state of America’s educational schools andacademic institutions. Based on the fact that our nation was falling behind in educationalleadership, the commission offered strong directives to the nation on how to implement
24effective change in the nation’s schools and educational economy. The nation respondedby challenging schools to have a more rigorous and dynamic curriculum, especially in theareas of mathematics and science. Major changes were directed toward the structure ofthe curriculum emphasizing the fact that curriculum is a major component of all learningand academic achievement and success. One of the most recent federal legislative reform efforts in place has been enactedin the form of the No Child Left Behind Act (2001). This act set high accountabilitystandards for all schools ensuring that the academic needs of all students weresufficiently addressed. In Texas, this standard is being actualized through theadministration of a state developed achievement test currently known as the TexasAssessment of Knowledge and SkillsTM (TAKSTM) test. This test is administeredthroughout the state and measures the academic progress of students, schools, anddistricts in regards to academic achievement and student success. Administrators,curriculum leaders, and other appointed professionals then use this data to developprograms and curriculum models that will help to facilitate student success and learning.Curriculum is therefore an important component to all learning and student academicachievement. Based on new accountability demands, many educators and law makers haveinitiated a thrust towards higher accountability standards and have mandated thateducators provide a rigorous and effective curriculum model in the classroom. Byrequiring more of students and educators, lawmakers contend that students will be moreacademically challenged and able to make greater strides in their learning and academiccareers.
25 Examining the Need for a Rigorous and Effective Curriculum Model At the crux of all educational discourse is the foundational question of whatshould encompass the amount and type of knowledge our students should be required toknow and articulate. Educators should reflect upon the foundational and philosophicalquestion: “What is education and how do we know that we have achieved our goalsregarding educational success and academic achievement?” Past generations havestruggled with this same philosophical question and have had to make decisions based ontheir own current research models and critical needs assessments for their owngeneration. The A Nation at Risk (1983) report has stated that: Knowledge, learning, information, and skilled intelligences are the new raw materials of international commerce and are today spreading throughout the world as vigorously as miracle drugs, synthetic fertilizers, and blue jeans did earlier. If only to keep and improve on the slim competitive edge we still retain in world markets, we must dedicate ourselves to the reform of our educational system for the benefit of all. (Gardner, 1983, p. 2) These mandates for change are justified and supported through numerous studieson the state of education throughout the United States and the world: “According to theNational Center for Education Statistics (2003), every day from September to June some53.5 million students in the United States walk into classes that teach English,mathematics, science, history, and geography and face the daunting task of learning newcontent” (Marzano, 2004, p. 1). Educators must ask, “Are the students enrolled in oureducational systems truly learning or merely gaining certificates of attendance without
26 any recollection or retention of knowledge taught in the classroom?” When educators know what to teach, then implementing the curriculum in the classroom becomes purposeful and meaningful to the student learner. Educational Leadership and the Curriculum The relationship of curriculum and educational leadership is undeniable. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) 2001, enacted under President George W. Bush’s administration, has dramatically altered the face of teaching and accountability in today’s public school arena. This new “law represents a profound change in the relationship between the federal government and state and local education agencies regarding who controls education and has direct implications for what happens educationally in schools and classroom” (Sunderman, Orfield, & Kim, 2006, p. 19). This new law, now more than ever, places greater responsibility for student academic achievement squarely on the shoulders of the men and women who hold leadership and administrative positions within their own prospective school populations and learning communities. Especially in the area of curricula leadership, the role of the educational leader has become pivotal in the development, oversight, and implementation of the student educational process. In today’s society, “learning is the indispensable investment required for success inthe information age we are entering” (Gardner, 1983, p. 2). Students emerging from ourhigh school campuses will need to be well versed and proficient in the knowledge andneeds of an inter-connected society and ever increasing competitive workplace. Mandatessuch as those formulated in the NCLB act specifically charge administrators to takeresponsibility and action in regards to the implementation and supervision of an effectivecurriculum model: “Many of NCLB’s provisions have important implications for
27principals” (Sunderman et al., p. 24). Principals will be held responsible for studentachievement. Therefore, expectations for high student achievement have challengedschool leaders to re-evaluate the curriculum used in the classroom: “The heavy emphasison testing and accountability has refocused attention on underperforming subgroups butalso has created incentives that drive curriculum and instruction in the classroom”(Sunderman et al., p. 20). These incentives for mastery can stimulate an administrator’sresolve to choose the best and most effective curriculum model for his or her student body. While administrators ultimately choose the type of curriculum a district will use,the proprietor of teaching and learning is the classroom teacher: “The educator strives tohelp each student realize his or her potential as a worthy and effective member of society”(Kritsonis, 2002, p. 294). To address the needs of this new generation, dedicated teachersmust work towards meeting the needs of the academic classroom and set primary goals forstudent learning and achievement. For educational administrators, a pivotal place to beginchange is at the core and heart of curriculum selection and implementation. The rationalefor beginning change with the curriculum is important in that the curriculum forms thebasis of a student’s learning capabilities and is foundational to the knowledge that thestudent will be exposed to in his or her academic career. Curriculum Contributions to Student Success The curriculum will help students prepare for their adult lives and careers. In order to prepare the adolescent student with the skills needed to succeed in a complex and sophisticated society, critical thinking skills, and higher level cognitive abilities must be developed in order for the student to succeed in his or her personal, private, and career adult lives. In our school systems, we should be aware that “the special purpose of
28education is to widen one’s view of life, to deepen insight into relationships, and tocounteract the provincialism of customary existence - in short, to engender a meaningfulintegrated outlook” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 5). Without thoughtful attention to what is beingtaught and how it is being comprehended by the student, the goals for student academicachievement and success will produce inadequate and disappointing results. In the questfor creating and leading more effective schools, educational leadership is paramount tothe success of any future educational developments or implemented curriculum models inthe classroom.The Superintendent’s Role in Curriculum Selection The chief executive officer of a school district is the superintendent. It is thesuperintendent who will ultimately decide what curriculum philosophy will be utilized inthe classroom. By definition, a superintendent is an educational leader who not onlypromotes the success of all students by facilitating the design and implementation ofcurricula and strategic plans that enhance teaching and learning; but is also able to implement core curriculum design and delivery systems to ensure instructional continuity and instructional integrity across the district, alignment of curriculum, curriculum resources and assessment, and the use of various forms of assessment to measure student performance. Texas Education Code Ch. 19, Part vii Superintendents regulate the district’s educational goals and objectives. Increasedaccountability from NCLB “requires district administrators to have an increasedphilosophical and technical expertise in curriculum scope, sequence, and alignment”(Petersen & Young, 2004, p. 351). A superintendent must also have the expertise to
29effectively ensure that the learning programs in place are the most effective programs forhis or her district.The Principal’s Role as Curriculum Leader The campus principal also shares responsibility on how students performacademically and fare on state and local academic achievement tests. Historically, theprincipal has always been considered the educational and curriculum leader of the schooland now joins forces with the leadership from the office of the school superintendent.While both groups must work congruously with each other and collaborate effectivelywithin their own domains of power and influence, it is necessary that all educationalleaders have a firm grasp of curriculum theory, implementation, and outcomemeasurement classroom strategies. Today “given the national and state standards movement and the need to upgradethe curriculum to meet these standards, the school principal’s attention has increasinglyfocused on curriculum, especially aligning curriculum to state standards and high-stakestests” (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2004, p. 25). With this objective in mind, it is clear that animportant role of the educational leader is to facilitate curriculum leadership through theoversight and implementation of effective goals, strategies, evaluation, and assessmenttechniques. The implications for meeting the current academic and curriculum demandsplaced on educational districts and communities “have important implications forprincipals” (Sunderman et al., 2006, p. 21). How well students perform in the classroomultimately affects the perceptions of how well a principal or other educational leader ismanaging his or her school district: “Principals should carefully consider how test-basedaccountability affects the educational process” (Sunderman, et. al, p. 24). This is
30important not only to the students participating in the educational process, but also hassupreme importance in the overall stability and academic ratings of the districts that areserved through a principal’s leadership: “Principals are in a position to evaluate thesuccess of their current reform program and encourage the continuation of those that areworking while discouraging practices that disrupt good reform programs alreadyunderway” (Sunderman et al., p. 24). The principal’s role as curriculum leader requirethat as the campus administrator, he or she must be knowledgeable and up-to-date on thelatest educational trends and research in curriculum development and implementation inthe classroom. Keeping abreast of the latest educational trends and academic researchwill help to ensure that the most effective curriculum framework philosophies andprograms are available to classroom teachers for direct implementation into classroomstudies and pedagogical frameworks within the learning community.Government Regulations and the Curriculum While the role of educational leadership is undeniable, it should also be noted thateducational leaders receive their working orders from federal, state, and local laws thatgovern how their schools, districts, and realms of influence should be established. Onesuch federal mandate has come in the form of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)2001 which was enacted to promote a more rigorous standard for learning and academicachievement for all students. In an effort to inspire and direct student learning on the federal level, the NCLB2001 was enacted to provide guidelines for student academic achievement and success.While the NCLB act’s initial purpose and design was meant to improve student academic
31performance in the classroom, it is evident that the law has not been able to address intotality the objective goal of facilitating student improvement. In mandating the need for change, the NCLB act “does not provide the policies,support, or flexibility needed to meet these goals and instead assumes that good teacherswill respond to being sanctioned and labeled as failing” (Sunderman et al., p. 21).Districts are faced with the dilemma of meeting critical standards and components thathave been mandated by NCLB, but left without any concrete or solidified directive onhow to directly achieve these prescribed goals and objectives. In an effort to meet the demanding challenges of federal law such as the NCLB(2001) the importance of developing a pattern of learning and student achievement hasprompted educational leaders to review the fundamental basis of learning strategies andparadigms in order to meet the vigorous, new requirements that new governmentlegislation has proposed. What to teach and how to teach the knowledge required for aneducated populace becomes of extreme importance in the educational discussionregarding student achievement and success. Education’s Responsibility: Accountability and Viability Despite a long and even distinguished attempt by past generations to facilitate aneffective model and framework for student academic achievement, today’s schools arefaced with significant challenges in educating America’s youth. Addressing the newrealities of student needs, demographics, and educational prowess requires thatdiscriminating educational leaders look forward to the future and relinquish past attemptsto coordinate educational strategies not working in today’s highly sophisticated andtechnical educational society: “If schools do not find new ways to engage their attention,
32adolescents will continue to be distracted (and) lose crucial years for intellectualdevelopment” (Botstein, 2006, p. 16). Schools therefore need to employ rigorous andrelevant demands and opportunities in the curriculum and educational process. Whileeducators will usually agree that there is need for significant change in the educationalcommitments to our students, how to enact that change seems unclear. The one fact thatdoes draw educational researchers and leaders together is the fact that today’s studentsare exposed to an information age never experienced anytime before in history. Students“communicate with the wider world in ways and at speeds heretofore wereinconceivable” (Botstein, 2006, p. 16). In today’s society “adolescents have a freedom ofmovement we associate with adulthood. The fashion and entertainment industries, eversensitive to social change, have come to regard adolescents as consumers on par withadults” (Botstein, 2006, p. 16). While the marketplace recognizes the new sophisticationof the young, high school student, many schools have not tapped into the realities of theeducational needs and wants of the 21st century young adult learner Accountability and the Curriculum To know if a curriculum philosophy or model has impacted student learning, it isnecessary to evaluate the strategies being utilized in the classroom for their effectivenessand productivity in the classroom. Standardized testing is one assessment model fortesting academic achievement and is a common venue to assess student academicachievement and success. Standardized tests can measure student academic achievement;however, this should not be the only resource for evaluation. Although the era of studentaccountability has encouraged a mentality of teaching towards a specific test ofaccountability, it is important to note that “high school principals and superintendents
33must be less deferential to standardized tests and more activist in promoting other waysof evaluating learning” (Botstein, 2006, p. 18). If we fail to meet the academic needs ofour students, high school will be “a wasted opportunity to challenge the intellectualfaculties of adolescents. If schools do not find new ways to engage their attention,adolescents who continue to be distracted and lose crucial years for intellectualdevelopment” (Botstein, 2006, p. 16). Therefore, the need for utilizing a strongcurriculum in the classroom becomes paramount in facilitating a framework for studentacademic achievement that will guide and direct effective learning in the classroom. Ininitiating and directing educational frameworks for structure and curricula used in theclassroom, it is important that the focus of all educational endeavors, especially that ofchoosing the curriculum, be focused on the academic needs and achievement of thestudents being served by a particular learning plan and design. Education: A Diffusion of Knowledge for the Good of the State The Texas Legislature has implemented an ambitious public education missionwhich is stated in Sec. 40.001 recorded in the Texas Education Code updated and revisedby the 79th Texas legislature. The legislature’s purpose mission statement says that thestate’s educational mission is “grounded on the conviction that a general diffusion ofknowledge is essential for the welfare of this state and for the preservation of the libertiesand rights for citizens” (Texas Education Code, Sec. 40.001, 79th Texas legislature).Therefore, a student’s academic success has been deemed as an important component forthe general welfare of the state and country. Legislators have highlighted the importance of student achievement. It isimperative to understand what student academic success entails. Student academic
34success and achievement is based on what a student knows and to what degree thestudent can apply his or her knowledge to new problems and situations. As studentsprogress through the educational system, it is expected that they will increase inknowledge and wisdom and be able to develop analytical and higher level thinking skillsin order to solve the many problems and challenges they will face not only in theclassroom, but also in their future adult lives and workplace environments. In our currenteducational system, there are mandated courses in literature, math, science, and socialstudies, but the level of knowledge and expertise students glean from these courses is notalways mastered on the level necessary to analyze, synthesize, and apply higher levelcritical thinking skills in today’s highly sophisticated and technically oriented workplace.For this reason, accountability standards have been developed to act as benchmarks forall student achievement in order to give public officials and professional educators aguide as to what student academic achievement should look like and what it entails on apractical daily basis. By understanding the framework of student success, curriculastructures can be developed to encourage and develop the intellectual capacities of allstudents. Local, State, and Federal Accountability Educational leaders are responsible for the oversight of the curriculum andstudent learning. In today’s educational society and culture, the efficacy of theeducational administrator is based on how well he (or she) as the principal administratoror superintendent has done in helping his or her school or district achieve high scores onthe statewide accountability test known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge andSkillsTM (TAKSTM) test. Curriculum models that extend beyond “teaching to the test”
35will ultimately produce greater academic rewards for students and higher levels ofacademic achievement and educational competency and literacy. The Consequence of Accountability Although not the only measure for student academic achievement, the TAKSTMmandatory testing system is considered a high stakes testing benchmark. Students, whopass and do well, will go on to graduate from high school and begin work towards theirown personal career or professional goals. Students who are not successful will not beable to graduate from high school. The entire educational system hinges upon howeffective the curriculum is in preparing students to succeed in mastering this high stakesaccountability test which measures factual knowledge, critical thinking skills, and theinteractive skills of applying a student’s understanding of a subject matter to other subjectareas that are interrelated and intertwined in the curriculum. Although proponents of the educational system will decry the fact that oureducational system is not to hinge on one high stakes test, the reality for many districts isthat the test has become inordinately important in the overall success of not only theaffected individual student, but also to the school districts and campuses that have beengiven the mandate to prepare our students to be critical thinkers and knowledgeableproponents of the world in which they participate, work, and will ultimately spend theirlives.The Goldilocks Standard of Student Learning and Accountability New approaches to education can add to gains in true student accomplishmentsand learning abilities. Curriculums that challenge, inspire, and provide a true platformfor learning should be the norm and not the exception for student learning and academic
36accountability in our schools: “Anthony P. Carnevale of Georgetown University has saidthis approach meets the Goldilocks standard, because nothing would be too difficult ortoo easy, always just right, for every child every day” (Hoss, 2007, p. 1). Ensuring thateducational directives meet the needs and priorities of each student helps to validate andempower the administrator who seeks to ensure that every child is reaching his or hermaximum capacity.Texas Assessment of Knowledge and SkillsTM Test Numerous high stakes accountability tests are given throughout the United States.In Texas, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and SkillsTM (TAKSTM) test is utilized as asignificant indicator of whether or not student academic achievement and learning hastaken place in the classroom and in the overall learning process of individual students.The high stakes testing purported in this testing scenario ultimately decides what schoolsand districts are successful and meet pre-determined academic standards, the level oflearning that has occurred within the schools, and ultimately if students completing 12years of academic and classroom instruction will actually graduate from high school.Texas utilizes an objective and statistical approach for measuring student academicachievement. Determining what data will be used for the statistical decisions ofaccountability requires that a standard of measurement be developed and applied to allstudents and tested subject areas in the state of Texas: “In the act of creatingaccountability for results, it becomes important to focus on data that will be used toenable accountability to become a reality” (English, 2003, p. 201). For Texas, the TAKSTM test measures student and district academic success andachievement. The exit level TAKSTM test occurs during a student’s junior year in high
37school. Four academic tests are given to test and judge a student’s ability to perform wellon the given subject matter test material. Students are required to analyze data and applythe knowledge which he or she has mastered during their period of academicparticipation and instruction in the public educational school system. Students, who aresuccessful in passing each of the four tests given, will be able to graduate and receive ahigh school diploma. Students not successful in achieving the required passing score willnot graduate from high school unless protected under the umbrella and jurisdiction ofSpecial Education laws and procedures. The TAKSTM state assessment test has been developed to test a student’sknowledge level, critical thinking ability, and general competencies. At the 11th gradeexit level four major academic disciplines, (English language arts, mathematics, science,and social studies), are tested to assess if students have met the academic criteria requiredof graduating high school seniors as evidenced by the students’ overall academicperformance on the TAKSTM examination and their completion of a required corecurriculum. In this high stakes testing scenario, many school administrators assume that“data-driven decision making centered on “hard data” will provide a quantitatively andqualitatively better base and framework for decisions which will lead to improved (moreaccurate, timely, reliable) decisions” (English, 2003, p. 201). Although evidence maylean toward “the conjecture that data-driven decision making will not be superior, butmay actually “dumb down” the quality of decisions rendered is definitely counterintuitive to the concept’s attractiveness to school administrators” (English, 2003, p. 201).While educators must be aware of the state requirements and standards for studentachievement as measured through such instruments as the TAKSTM examination,
38educators must also be aware that standardized test scores should not be the only measurefor student academic achievement. While the state’s mandates must be met, educational leaders must work to ensurethat students do not simply learn to pass tests that are considered high-stakes, but theyalmost must ensure that students are becoming critical thinkers and not just simplistic,one item thinkers. Educational administrators and school leaders must decide what typeof curriculum model and educational philosophy to use in the classroom that will bestmeet the learning needs of the individual student and educational learning needs of aparticular school or district. The Importance of a Strong Academic Curriculum The importance of the curriculum in a student’s education is that the quality andcontent of a student’s learning experience, through the curriculum, will not only affectthe learner’s own personal lifetime outcomes and objectives such as career and work, butwill ultimately affect the society as a whole in which the student lives. The educator’schallenge is then how to select, organize, and prioritize curriculum and learningobjectives in order to prepare students to be critical thinkers, empowered workers, andactive participants in today’s democratic society. A strong philosophical base forcurriculum design is necessary in order to have a logical and cohesive framework uponwhich to base educational strategies and goals. Educators must be careful in the selectionas well as the implementation of any curricula model used to promote student learningand academic success. Effective curriculum frameworks must be based on the classicaldiscipline areas of instruction which include mathematics, English language arts, science,and social studies. The integration of the core curriculum subjects allows for a unified
39view of the curriculum which can significantly engender student learning and academicachievement. Curriculum Choice The official curriculum for the state of Texas is the Texas Essential Knowledgeand Skills (TEKS) listing of all learning benchmarks required by students in the state ofTexas. However, to implement this curriculum mandate, educators must choose acurriculum model that will teach the TEKS and provide impetus for student learning andacademic achievement. When choosing a curriculum, it is important that educatorsunderstand the importance of their decision and also to be able to recognize viableeducational strategies built into a district’s chosen curriculum model. For education to bemeaningful, the curriculum must be read, understood, and comprehended. To strengthenmeaning in the classroom, a deep understanding of the curriculum and study materialmust be understood and articulated. Structuring an effective curriculum model must bebased on a foundation of strong, research based principles in order to facilitate that thecurriculum in use facilitates meaning and understanding for all students. Curriculumshould be meaningful; therefore, principles that enhance this meaningful structure forlearning must be understood and facilitated in regards to curriculum choice andimplementation. A unified view of the curriculum can enhance learning and student academicachievement through both the philosophy and implementation of a particular curriculummodel or design. Having a unified view of the curriculum philosophy provides a strongframework for successful student achievement and learning. First, “a comprehensiveoutlook is necessary for all intelligent decisions about what shall be included and
40excluded from the course of study” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 6). This is important because thebreadth of knowledge is too large to cover all aspects of every subject in every classroom.Choices on what should be taught and how the subject matter should be presented arecritical components to the success and education of the individual and corporate group ofstudent learners in today’s learning environment and educational setting. Secondly, because people are complex, total beings, “the curriculum ought tohave a corresponding organic quality” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 6). A holistic pattern of studycan “best contribute to the person’s growth if it is governed by the goal of wholeness forthe human being” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 6). A third consideration in the selection andperpetration of a unified curriculum is that educators must realize that our society andindividualized lives require a design or plan to ensure continuity, progress, and success:“A curriculum planned as a comprehensive design for learning contributes a basis for thegrowth of community, while a fragmented program of studies engenders disintegrationinto the life of society” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 6). And finally, “a comprehensive concept ofthe structure of learning gives added significance to each of the component segments ofthe curriculum” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 6). Curriculum subject matter is enhanced by anunderstanding and grasp of relationships between the particular disciplines involved in anacademic course of study: “Distinctive features of any subject are best comprehended inthe light of its similarities and contrasts with other subjects” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 6). Thisinter-disciplinarian approach to education facilitates a deeper understanding of allcurriculum and allows the student learner to facilitate learning and meaning in a deeperand more philosophical construct of meaning and understanding.
41Coherency and Integration A curriculum based on coherent and integrated ideas is also a curriculum ofmeaning and understanding. Because human beings have the unique component of beingable to experience meaning and understanding, general education becomes “the processof engendering essential meaning” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 7). To determine the mosteffective and productive curriculum path of learning for our students, “we should speaknot of meaning as such, but of meanings, or of the realms of meaning” (Kritsonis, 2007,p. 11). Characteristics of a Viable Curriculum Design for Student Learning Curriculum design is meant to encourage and incorporate the highest level ofacademic success and achievement for all students. The impact a curriculum has onstudent achievement in many ways is enhanced by understanding student diversity andthe various fields of study that support the learning process. Inherent to a basicknowledge of the curriculum structure, is an understanding of the philosophy that hashelped to develop a particular model of curriculum understanding and insight. Tounderstand student achievement, an understanding the diverse needs of learners is neededin order to be able to design and implement effective curricular models for the student.At the core of real and substantial academic change is the vehicular approach to studentacademic achievement known as the curriculum: “The only way to compete successfullywith the diversions and excitement of young adulthood in contemporary America is toadjust curricular and pedagogical approaches based on the assumptions that students canbe interested in serious intellectual engagement” (Botstein, 2006, p. 16). Thisprescription for change “is not teaching to the test and simply hoping students advance to
42the next grade” (Botstein, 2006, p. 16). Instead, it is opening up a new and vibrantsystem of learning that challenges the student to reach out, explore, and discover newrealities and truths on a consistent and daily basis. In order to revitalize change, effectivecurriculum models must be introduced into the educational system that will challenge,inspire, and academically spur students forward to increased achievement and success. The new learning that must emerge in the classroom is a system of knowledgeacquisition that integrates curriculum, nurtures the mind, and stimulates academiccuriosity, and student academic achievement. A disciplined approach to the curriculumincludes the application and mastery of core subject areas such as mathematics, Englishlanguage arts, science, and social studies. In addition to the core requirements alreadymandated in the curricular process, a high school student graduating in the 21st century should have an integrated approach to education and be expected to ask intelligent questions about Asia, Africa, and South America. In addition to the Romance and Germanic languages, more high schools should offer courses in Western languages. (Botstein, 2006, p. 17) Based on the integrated curriculum proposed by Botstein, a curriculum thatincludes a mastery of a wide, but integrated curriculum of learning will include aframework for academic study that provides a disciplined and ordered study of theclassics. The classics include subject matter encompassing literature, science,philosophy, history, and religion. A classical education that forms the basis for studentlearning and provides an in-depth structure and foundation for student learning willprovide a sound educational foundation upon which all areas of learning can build upon.
43Evaluating achievement can be accomplished through observing how students apply theinformation they have learned as well as providing opportunities for the student todemonstrate his or her knowledge on educational tests, written responses, or projectdemonstration. Student Diversity and Educational Needs This study has also looked at diverse populations in the learning community toanalyze the effect an integrated curriculum model has had on their learning experiencesin the classroom. This is important because America is a melting pot of differentcultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, and educational and economic backgrounds whichpredispose to the educator the need for creative and meaningful classroom curriculaimplementation and intervention strategies in the classroom. Legislatively, various lawshave sought to enact laws that would bridge the gap between areas of economic, social,or educational deprivation and help to build the abilities and skills of all students andeducational participants in our society. In a landmark Supreme Court ruling, Brown vs.Board of Education ( 347 U.S. 483 1954), reiterated the fact that all students involved inthe public school system have the right to a fair and equal opportunity for education equaland accessible to all students regardless of ethnicity, social status, or background. Tofacilitate the needs of all students, a level playing field is necessary in our classrooms inorder to facilitate a high level of learning for all students. This level playing field can bemanifested in a research based curriculum model that focuses on facilitating an academicenvironment and framework for learning in which all students can succeed.
44 Leveling the Playing Field through Understanding Diversity in the Classroom Schools are held to a standard of excellence by local stake holders, statelegislators, and federally enacted mandated standards for student learning and academicachievement. It is assumed that with strict accountability standards in education,academic achievement scores among all students will increase. This premise ofeducational accountability is intrinsically flawed: “The downside has been the persistentgap in test scores between children of poverty and color and those of the largely white,suburban schools” (Jencks and Phillips as rpt. in English & Steffey, 2001, p. 2). Thetheory of Darwinism prevails making the educational gap a “spawning ground for theresurrection of flawed explanations of differences that cannot be erased by good schoolsand which are purported to be the results of Darwinism processes at work” (Jencks andPhillips as rpt. in English & Steffey, 2001, p. 2). High stakes testing continues to be atthe forefront of all levels of student accountability and success. However, “high stakestesting continues to leave in its cyclonic path defeated hopes and broken lives” (English& Steffey, 2001, p. v). W. Edward Deming who is known as the father of quality, hasstated that “inspection to improve quality is too late, ineffective, and costly” (Deming,W.E. as rpt. in English & Steffey, 2001, p. v). Despite this sage advice from EdwardDeming, legislators and many educational leaders believe that academic “improvementmeans better test scores” (English & Steffey, 2001, p. v). With no evidence of innateacademic discrepancies between children of different ethnicities, state based high stakescurricular tests many times favor those students of higher socio-economic status opposedto those not in this category regardless of race or ethnicity. Educators must seek to findout why there is a difference in student academic performance and then seek to level the
45academic playing field so all students will have the opportunity to academically succeedand that there will be “no child left behind” (No Child Left Behind Act 2001).Addressing the Intellectual Needs of All Students It is not enough to have a social consensus of a school’s purpose as a place whereall students can learn and succeed. It is necessary to ensure that in the classroomenvironment, real and sustained learning emerges that can effectually promote andencourage student academic achievement and success. The main component of asuccessful learning environment is reticent upon the curriculum that is used in theclassroom. Educational leaders must come to a consensus on how to make sound andviable researched based decisions related to providing the best possible learningprograms for the student body. Through the induction of new theories and educationalresearch for the classroom, new levels of student accountability have occurred throughlegislative initiatives such as the state administered Texas Assessment of Knowledge andSkillsTM (TAKSTM) test and the federal No Child Left Behind Act (2001) that have raisedthe level of excellence and mastery required of all students attending a public elementaryor secondary school in the state of Texas. This inherent reality epitomizes the significantchallenges that lie ahead for educational leaders who must educate and prepare thisgeneration for the innate challenges and opportunities in educational constructs, socialopportunities, and work-related requirements and expectations.Multiple Intelligences and the ROM Curriculum Model Educational institutions throughout the nation and even the world are challengedwith the fact that each student is uniquely gifted and talented in the way they appropriatenew information and learning in the classroom. Educational leaders must implement
46curriculum models in the classroom that address the needs of all learners. One theorythat addresses the uniqueness of all learners is Howard Gardner’s theory of multipleintelligences. Gardner’s work on learning theory has shown that “intelligences typicallywork in harmony” (Gardner, 2004, p. 9). Gardner’s theory emphasizes the fact thatintelligence is a multi-faceted organism that manifests itself in different ways dependingupon the student’s particular academic bent and intellectual capabilities for learning. Analyzed through the comparative lens of the Realms of Meaning curriculumphilosophy, educational leaders can gain new understanding on how a diverse schoolpopulation can be taught to achieve and excel academically utilizing a structuredframework for learning that emphasizes academic success and achievement for allstudents. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has its root and foundation in thecommunicative linguistic foundations. Built upon the premise that there are differentlevels of learning and student academic achievement, Gardner’s theory of multipleintelligences emphasizes how intelligence can be viewed from more than just a purelyacademic viewpoint. Gardner’s model emphasizes six unique characteristics ofintelligence that go beyond the basic academic perceptions of what it means to beintelligent. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences can be more fully understood byunderstanding how the theory of multiple intelligences corresponds to the Ways ofKnowing through the Realms of Meaning curriculum philosophy. From this point, “afuller appreciation of human beings occurs if we take into account spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, inter-personal, and intrapersonal intelligences” (Gardner, 2004, p.xv). The following chart shows how Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and the
47Ways of Knowing through the Realms of Meaning curriculum philosophy supports anunderstanding of diverse learning patterns and an integrated curriculum model.Table 2.1Comparative Learning Styles and the ROM Curriculum Model Howard Gardner, PhD William Allen Kritsonis, PhD Ways of Knowing Through the Theory of Multiple Intelligences Realms of Meaning Linguistic Intelligence Symbolics Musical Intelligence Esthetics Logical-Mathematical Intelligence Symbolics, Empirics, and Synoptics Spatial Intelligence Symbolics, Esthetics Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence Esthetics An integrated curriculum model can easily be defined and enhanced toincorporate Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and Kritsonis’s six realms ofmeaning. Gardner listed six theories of multiple intelligences. They are linguisticintelligence, musical intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial intelligence,bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, and the personal intelligences. These intelligencescorrespond to the realms model of curriculum instruction and delivery (Gardner, 2004, p.xv). The symbolic realm of meaning correlates with the linguistic intelligence mode oflearning. The musical and bodily kinesthetic intelligences are reflective of the estheticrealm. The logical-mathematical intelligence category correlates with the symbolic,empiric, and synoptic realms of meaning. Spatial intelligence can clearly be seen in thesymbolic and esthetic realms. And finally, the personal intelligence theory is in tandemwith the synnoetic realm of meaning: “A curriculum developing the above basic
48competencies is designed to satisfy the essential human need for meaning” (Kritsonis,2007, p. 15). The ROM curriculum supports the theories of multiple intelligences in thatthe symbolic, linguistic, scientific, and mathematical structures that constitute theGardner theory of multiples are foundational to the six realms of meaning. As illustratedin the mind diagram below (Figure 2.1), intelligence is multi-faceted and can includeanalytical strengths exemplified through the puzzle diagram (synoptics) , musicalattributes exemplified by the diagram of the piano (esthetics), scientific and investigativestrengths as demonstrated symbolically by the light bulb (empirics), the sun glassesrepresenting personal property and expression (synnoetics), and the remaining symbolicfabric of the mind which represents the remaining symbolic and ethical attributes oflearning (ethics) which are foundational to the ROM curriculum model and frameworkfor student academic achievement learning and success.
49Figure 2.1A Comparative Diagram of Multiple Learning Theories and the RealmsLinguistic IntelligenceSymbolics Logical-Mathematical IntelligenceSymbolics, EmpiricsSpatialEsthetics, SymbolicsSynoptics: a comprehensiveview of learning andknowledgeMusical IntelligenceEstheticsPersonal IntelligencesSynnoetics Copyright free graphic courtesy of Clipart.com The comprehensive nature of the Ways of Knowing through the Realms ofMeaning curriculum philosophy is uniquely designed and correlated to address and meetthe needs of the unique and diverse learning styles of students in today’s classroom.Aligned with Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, the depth of learning that can beachieved by all learners is enhanced through the use of the integrated Ways of Knowingthrough the Realms of Meaning (ROM) curriculum model. Regardless of the student population being served by a district or othereducational institution, it is important that educational leaders are accountable for the
50type of curriculum and learning environment that his or her leadership provides for theirown sphere of influence within the educational community. Principles for Curriculum Mastery To be effective, a curriculum model must provide a framework for studentmastery and academic success in the classroom. Principles of mastery utilized in theROM of curriculum model can be utilized in any curriculum structure and are invaluabletools in the teaching and educational process of students. In this study, the Realms ofMeaning curriculum philosophy has been shown to have similar characteristics andlearning paradigms as those schools in the state of Texas which utilize anothercurriculum model entitled CSCOPETM. Therefore, identifying the characteristics withinan established, independent curriculum model will show how learning and curriculumdesign can be affected and enhanced through the understanding of a dynamic andpervasive curriculum philosophy as demonstrated through the Ways of Knowing throughthe Realms of Meaning. According to the ROM curriculum philosophy, the first principle for maximizedmeanings in the curriculum is mastery. Curriculum decisions should be made with therealization of existence that “lies in depth of understanding” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 560).Mastery in the curriculum alludes to the fact that “the meaningful life is that in which theperson finds one thing to do and learns to do it very well” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 560). Thisviewpoint encourages a curriculum that concentrates more on depth of knowledge ratherthan breath: “Depth of knowledge and skill should be the goal, rather than superficialacquaintance with a variety of fields” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 560). A second principle forattaining maximized meanings in the classroom is to realize the importance education
51plays in an integrated society. In this curriculum model, curriculum mastery is importantbecause “each individual plays his part and is required to develop competencies that bestequip him to contribute to the whole” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 561). Specialized curriculaallows for the development of “competencies that best equip (the student) to contribute tothe whole” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 561). Utilizing these competencies strengthens thelearning process and supports maximum student academic achievement and change. A third principle for finding meaning in the curriculum is to provide a wellrounded and diverse choice of subject matter for learning and integration. For learningand the curriculum to provide meaning, a diverse curriculum model should be in place inorder to facilitate the highest levels of learning and achievement possible: “The desirablegoal is well-roundedness and variety of interests . . . curriculum should becorrespondingly broad and diverse” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 561). Interdependency uponcurriculum subjects allows for the diversity necessary to incorporate the highest level ofstudent academic achievement possible in the modern classroom environment. The fourth principle “for the fulfillment of meaning consists in the integrity of theperson” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 561). From a curriculum perspective, learning needs to be capable of assimilation by the particular person so they may contribute to his integral selfhood. A curriculum that supports a student in his or her search for meaning will allow the student to possess a sufficient range ofmeanings in his own self without depending for the significance of his lifeupon his position in the social whole. (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 562)