EDAS 7776EX Curriculum
Dumont Public Schools endorses a behavioral approach to curriculum design and
management. As an Assistant Principal and multi-subject supervisor at Dumont High School,
my experience with attempts to modify curriculum using a more constructivist approach has
been met with resistance from my superiors. In fact, the hierarchy of Dumont Public Schools
desires complete control of the district curriculum and curriculum guides.
Dumont’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction is in complete control of all aspects of
curriculum design and management in all four elementary schools and one high school. This is a
daunting task and one endorsed by the Superintendent, himself the former Director of
Curriculum and Instruction. All department supervisors (Language Arts, Math, World
Languages, Music, Art, and Science) all report directly to one person. There is no true marriage
or connection between any of the curricula, thus it is not a curriculum that functions, as one
should -- to create continuity and wed ideas and concepts together.
When we are asked to seek teachers to rewrite curriculum over the summer months, what
is really asked is for someone to edit, rephrase, and update assessments, state standards, and the
wording of the curriculum guides. All this is done in a vacuum – no two disciplines work in
tandem to marry one curriculum guide to the overall curriculum of the school or the district. One
may be hard pressed to even discover a district curriculum; and idea, goal, or concept of what
our students should and are capable of learning or developing into.
Newmann and Wehlage find that changing schools involves much more than just changing the
curriculum guides. In essence, changing a school means forming an idea of what quality student
work looks like and how it is achieved. It also involves examining pedagogy, assessments, and
designing support for a curriculum and the school. With this theory in mind, it is apparent that
Dumont does not engage in true school restructuring (though it claims to do so) nor does it
embrace the constructivist approach to curriculum design, management, or implementation.
Dumont’s curriculum guides are textbook centered and rely heavily on the results of
criterion and norm references tests. When a proposal for a new course is made to the Director of
C&I, the curriculum for that course cannot yet be designed without the textbook first being
approved. As the supervisor for World Languages, my experience with a curriculum reform
proposal, without making exclusive use of a textbook, was denied. What is more, my advocacy
for utilizing authentic assessments and other constructivist approaches to teaching and learning
were met with disdain by the veteran teaching staff and the Director of C&I. Simply put, the
way it is is the way they like it. Dumont teachers like the control that a behaviorist curriculum
guide gives them; testing is already planned, assignments are pre-designed, and assessments are
predictable and set for each classroom.
After reading the ideas and concepts in chapters 7, 8, and 10, I would like to know more
about curriculum mapping, particularly the concept of backloading. As one who aspires to be a
Superintendent or Director of Curriculum, I am especially interested in the idea of curriculum
auditing. If the aim of school leadership is to reform and restructure modern educational
practices and norms, then it is essential to begin with the definition of school restructuring as
stated by Newmann and Wehlage.