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Decision on Curriculum Change Path:
Towards Standards-Based Curriculum
Prince H. Armah, PhD
Education & Research Consultant
p.armah15@aberdeen.ac.uk
23/07/201
7
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
A Presentation to the Ministerial
Advisory Committee on the Review
of Pre-Tertiary Curriculum
24th July, 2017 @ Miklin Hotel, Accra-Ghana
23/07/201
7
OVERVIEW
1. Introduction: learning context in Ghana
2. Curriculum models: breadth and depth
3. Towards standards-based curriculum
4. Key features of standards-based curriculum
5. Four key advantages of a standards-based curriculum
6. Conclusion- final word
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
Introduction: Learning context in Ghana
• Dipping learning outcomes/ unmet educational goals,
particularly in mathematics and science: Evidence from
national and international reports.
• Every year, over 40% students “fail” BECE/WASSCE or have their
results cancelled (WAEC Report, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
• 75% of basic school pupils are challenged by Math (NEA, 2016), with
no substantive change since 2013
• Pupils lack knowledge, application and reasoning skills (MOE, 2014,
2016)
• TIMSS (and other International) results have similarly shown that
pupils perform poorly when required to apply knowledge of concepts,
express generalizations algebraically and model situations.
• Overloaded Curricular sits at the center of our problems.
23/07/201
7
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
Introduction: Learning context in Ghana
• Greater emphasis on preparing students to pass exams (i.e.,
BECE/WASSCE)
• Curricular place superior emphasis on ‘Knowledge and
Understanding’ profile dimension (Lower order cognitive domain –
Bloom’s taxonomy).
• High-stake assessments also largely measure procedural and
algorithmic competence
• Unequal access and the Stanine system denying pupils
education and leaving them ‘unprepared’ for life.
• Approved textbooks fail to achieve the support for meaningful
levels of in-depth understanding (Essuman & Osei-Poku,
2015) because they are loaded
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
Curriculum Models: Breadth and Depth
• In curriculum modeling, scope or optimal degree of coverage
is one of the essential elements that underpins the process.
1. Breadth: Advocates argue that pupils should be exposed to
a range of knowledge.
Advantages
• Gaining deep knowledge depends on broad general
knowledge (Hirsch, 2001)
• Teaching a diversity of subjects leads to broad general
knowledge
• Students become academicians, having been introduced
to wider perspectives, ideas and concepts.
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
Curriculum Model: Breadth and Depth
Disadvantages
• The pressure to cover interferes with ability to deeply
investigate or explore
• It constrains students ability to exercise choice over their
education
• It leads to heavily fragmented schedules, leading to
inability to achieve set target
2. Depth: Advocates contends that there are certain
fundamental concepts that are more beneficial to master
than others; those concepts should be exposed to students
in deeper contexts.
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
Curriculum Model: Breadth and Depth
Advantages
• It allows for sustained inquiry in a particular domain
• Offers hands-on learning experiences that promote
learning.
• Learning expectations are largely met
• It is associated with student choice; intrinsic motivation
Disadvantages
• More time on fewer concepts, leaving students almost
narrow minded
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
Curriculum Model: Breadth and Depth?
BUT THE QUESTION IS:
What is the essence of
knowing more but
understanding nothing?
A mile wide and an inch deep curriculum =
Jack of all trades, master of none!
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
TOWARDS STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM
The movement towards standards-based curricula
emerged from a dual demand:
assurances – and evidence - that:
1) pupils were learning what they need to know to be
competitive on national and/or international levels
(Content); and
2) they were learning it to satisfactory levels
(Performance/Proficiency).
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS
KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM
1. Focusing on a small number of cross-curricular essential learnings
or skills i.e., what is most important for children to learn, to learn how to
do or to learn how to be. (communication, critical, reflective and
creative thinking, social responsibility, personal responsibility, etc.)
• Essential learnings apply equally to all grade levels and disciplines and
are expected be integrated into daily teachings.
2. Defining subject-specific essential learnings – or content
standards - that define the key learnings that pupils must develop for
each subject.
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS
KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM
Draft revised primary mathematics syllabus (KG1-P6)
CONTENT STANDARDS
STANDARD 1: NUMBER AND NUMBER SENSE
Pupils can describe numbers and the relationship between numbers and number systems in multiple ways
STANDARD 2: NUMBER OPERATIONS
Pupils understand the meaning of different operations, including how they relate to one another and their impact on
initial number quantities, have a variety of personal, standard and mental strategies for computing and estimating,
and can select the most effective strategy for a given situation and use it to compute fluently and accurately
STANDARD 3: PATTERNS AND RELATIONS
Pupils recognize, describe, extend, create and use numerical and non-numerical patterns and relationships to
describe the world and solve problems
STANDARD 4: SHAPE, SPACE AND MEASUREMENT
Pupils describe and analyze the relationships among and between 2-D shapes and 3-D objects according to a variety
of attributes, including measurement, and describe their position & motion position in space.
STANDARD 5: COLLECTING AND HANDLING DATA
Pupils collect, interpret and present data in multiple ways and use observed patterns to make decisions.
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS
3. Defining objective, realistic and measureable learning
outcomes for each grade level, for each content standard.
 Learning outcomes describe what pupils (not teachers) are expected
to do.
 They provide teachers and parents with a clear indication what pupils
need to be able to demonstrate with respect to the each of the
content standards if they are “meeting expectations for their grade
level”.
 Learning outcomes must be measurable - provide a direct link to
assessment CALLED performance standards.
KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULA
23/07/201
7
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS
KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULA
4. Defining performance standards (or benchmarks or
milestones), aligned to key learning outcomes for the grade level
and discipline, describe what pupils must be able to do by the end
of a given school year to be successful in the next grade level.
 Performance standards answer the question “How good is good
enough?” for a given grade level. They indicate the minimum
competencies the pupil must demonstrate by the end of a given
school year.
 In doing so, they provide district officials, head teachers,
classroom teachers and parents with a means of determining
whether pupils are progressing at an adequate rate.
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS
KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM
P1 P2
1. Identify the number of tens and ones
in numerals from 11 to 20
2. Describe numbers between 0 and 20
in at least 3 different ways
3. Identify the larger (or the smaller) of
two numbers between 1 and 20
1. Identify the value of each digit in a two-digit
number to 100 (in terms of number of 10s or 1s)
2. Describe numbers between 0 and 100 in at least
3 different ways
3. Solve problems that involve comparing or ordering
numbers to 100 and justifying the solution using
place value
Performance standards are used for assessment purposes- they are generally
more narrowly defined than pupil learning outcomes, smaller in number and limited
to important learnings.
E.g., performance standards in the draft primary math syllabus measure pupils’
knowledge of key mathematics notions (knowledge of number systems or
basic facts...,). Others measure pupils’ ability to apply that knowledge, to
model their understandings or to reason critically.
Performance standards for Standard 1: Number and Number Sense for P1 and
P2.
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS
KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULA
4. Providing teachers with simple to administer assessment tasks,
aligned to each of the performance standards, makes it easier for
them to measure the extent to which pupils demonstrate mastery of the
standards.
Each task is accompanied by an interpretation scale that allows teachers to
determine, based on pupils’ score on the task, whether they have met the
standard, i.e., if their performance is “good enough”.
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS
FOUR KEY ADVANTAGES OF A STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM
1. Curricular Cohesion – Defining cross-curricular and cross-grade level essential
learnings, and cross-grade content standards within each subject area, being
valuable cohesion to a curriculum.
2. Focused on key or essential learning – both across subject areas and grade
levels, as well as within a specific subject area.
3. Recognition of professional autonomy – Teachers are free to use any teaching
method or approach as long as pupils are able to demonstrate mastery of the
learning outcomes, as indicated by their attainment on the performance standards
and associated assessment tasks.
4. Establishment of a direct and explicit link between learning and assessment.
The establishment of clear performance standards for each grade level and
subject area, align to the learning outcomes, provides an objective and consistent
basis for teachers, schools, school districts and national assessment programs to
determine the extent to which pupils are meeting expectations.
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS
CONCLUSION- FINAL WORD
Moving towards a standards-based curriculum
SHOULD be informed by international
benchmarking and MUST begin with research-based
learning progressions detailing what is known about
how students’ knowledge, skills, and understanding
develop over time.
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
23/07/201
7
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND
ATTENTION.
Email: p.armah15@aberdeen.ac.uk
© Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017

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Decision on Curriculum Change Path: Towards Standards-Based Curriculum in Ghana

  • 1. Decision on Curriculum Change Path: Towards Standards-Based Curriculum Prince H. Armah, PhD Education & Research Consultant p.armah15@aberdeen.ac.uk 23/07/201 7 © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017 A Presentation to the Ministerial Advisory Committee on the Review of Pre-Tertiary Curriculum 24th July, 2017 @ Miklin Hotel, Accra-Ghana
  • 2. 23/07/201 7 OVERVIEW 1. Introduction: learning context in Ghana 2. Curriculum models: breadth and depth 3. Towards standards-based curriculum 4. Key features of standards-based curriculum 5. Four key advantages of a standards-based curriculum 6. Conclusion- final word © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 3. Introduction: Learning context in Ghana • Dipping learning outcomes/ unmet educational goals, particularly in mathematics and science: Evidence from national and international reports. • Every year, over 40% students “fail” BECE/WASSCE or have their results cancelled (WAEC Report, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) • 75% of basic school pupils are challenged by Math (NEA, 2016), with no substantive change since 2013 • Pupils lack knowledge, application and reasoning skills (MOE, 2014, 2016) • TIMSS (and other International) results have similarly shown that pupils perform poorly when required to apply knowledge of concepts, express generalizations algebraically and model situations. • Overloaded Curricular sits at the center of our problems. 23/07/201 7 © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 4. 23/07/201 7 Introduction: Learning context in Ghana • Greater emphasis on preparing students to pass exams (i.e., BECE/WASSCE) • Curricular place superior emphasis on ‘Knowledge and Understanding’ profile dimension (Lower order cognitive domain – Bloom’s taxonomy). • High-stake assessments also largely measure procedural and algorithmic competence • Unequal access and the Stanine system denying pupils education and leaving them ‘unprepared’ for life. • Approved textbooks fail to achieve the support for meaningful levels of in-depth understanding (Essuman & Osei-Poku, 2015) because they are loaded © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 5. 23/07/201 7 Curriculum Models: Breadth and Depth • In curriculum modeling, scope or optimal degree of coverage is one of the essential elements that underpins the process. 1. Breadth: Advocates argue that pupils should be exposed to a range of knowledge. Advantages • Gaining deep knowledge depends on broad general knowledge (Hirsch, 2001) • Teaching a diversity of subjects leads to broad general knowledge • Students become academicians, having been introduced to wider perspectives, ideas and concepts. © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 6. 23/07/201 7 Curriculum Model: Breadth and Depth Disadvantages • The pressure to cover interferes with ability to deeply investigate or explore • It constrains students ability to exercise choice over their education • It leads to heavily fragmented schedules, leading to inability to achieve set target 2. Depth: Advocates contends that there are certain fundamental concepts that are more beneficial to master than others; those concepts should be exposed to students in deeper contexts. © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 7. 23/07/201 7 Curriculum Model: Breadth and Depth Advantages • It allows for sustained inquiry in a particular domain • Offers hands-on learning experiences that promote learning. • Learning expectations are largely met • It is associated with student choice; intrinsic motivation Disadvantages • More time on fewer concepts, leaving students almost narrow minded © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 8. 23/07/201 7 Curriculum Model: Breadth and Depth? BUT THE QUESTION IS: What is the essence of knowing more but understanding nothing? A mile wide and an inch deep curriculum = Jack of all trades, master of none! © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 9. 23/07/201 7 TOWARDS STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM The movement towards standards-based curricula emerged from a dual demand: assurances – and evidence - that: 1) pupils were learning what they need to know to be competitive on national and/or international levels (Content); and 2) they were learning it to satisfactory levels (Performance/Proficiency). © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 10. 23/07/201 7 TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM 1. Focusing on a small number of cross-curricular essential learnings or skills i.e., what is most important for children to learn, to learn how to do or to learn how to be. (communication, critical, reflective and creative thinking, social responsibility, personal responsibility, etc.) • Essential learnings apply equally to all grade levels and disciplines and are expected be integrated into daily teachings. 2. Defining subject-specific essential learnings – or content standards - that define the key learnings that pupils must develop for each subject. © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 11. 23/07/201 7 TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM Draft revised primary mathematics syllabus (KG1-P6) CONTENT STANDARDS STANDARD 1: NUMBER AND NUMBER SENSE Pupils can describe numbers and the relationship between numbers and number systems in multiple ways STANDARD 2: NUMBER OPERATIONS Pupils understand the meaning of different operations, including how they relate to one another and their impact on initial number quantities, have a variety of personal, standard and mental strategies for computing and estimating, and can select the most effective strategy for a given situation and use it to compute fluently and accurately STANDARD 3: PATTERNS AND RELATIONS Pupils recognize, describe, extend, create and use numerical and non-numerical patterns and relationships to describe the world and solve problems STANDARD 4: SHAPE, SPACE AND MEASUREMENT Pupils describe and analyze the relationships among and between 2-D shapes and 3-D objects according to a variety of attributes, including measurement, and describe their position & motion position in space. STANDARD 5: COLLECTING AND HANDLING DATA Pupils collect, interpret and present data in multiple ways and use observed patterns to make decisions. © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 12. TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS 3. Defining objective, realistic and measureable learning outcomes for each grade level, for each content standard.  Learning outcomes describe what pupils (not teachers) are expected to do.  They provide teachers and parents with a clear indication what pupils need to be able to demonstrate with respect to the each of the content standards if they are “meeting expectations for their grade level”.  Learning outcomes must be measurable - provide a direct link to assessment CALLED performance standards. KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULA 23/07/201 7 © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 13. 23/07/201 7 TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULA 4. Defining performance standards (or benchmarks or milestones), aligned to key learning outcomes for the grade level and discipline, describe what pupils must be able to do by the end of a given school year to be successful in the next grade level.  Performance standards answer the question “How good is good enough?” for a given grade level. They indicate the minimum competencies the pupil must demonstrate by the end of a given school year.  In doing so, they provide district officials, head teachers, classroom teachers and parents with a means of determining whether pupils are progressing at an adequate rate. © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 14. 23/07/201 7 TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM P1 P2 1. Identify the number of tens and ones in numerals from 11 to 20 2. Describe numbers between 0 and 20 in at least 3 different ways 3. Identify the larger (or the smaller) of two numbers between 1 and 20 1. Identify the value of each digit in a two-digit number to 100 (in terms of number of 10s or 1s) 2. Describe numbers between 0 and 100 in at least 3 different ways 3. Solve problems that involve comparing or ordering numbers to 100 and justifying the solution using place value Performance standards are used for assessment purposes- they are generally more narrowly defined than pupil learning outcomes, smaller in number and limited to important learnings. E.g., performance standards in the draft primary math syllabus measure pupils’ knowledge of key mathematics notions (knowledge of number systems or basic facts...,). Others measure pupils’ ability to apply that knowledge, to model their understandings or to reason critically. Performance standards for Standard 1: Number and Number Sense for P1 and P2. © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 15. 23/07/201 7 TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS KEY FEATURES OF STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULA 4. Providing teachers with simple to administer assessment tasks, aligned to each of the performance standards, makes it easier for them to measure the extent to which pupils demonstrate mastery of the standards. Each task is accompanied by an interpretation scale that allows teachers to determine, based on pupils’ score on the task, whether they have met the standard, i.e., if their performance is “good enough”. © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 16. 23/07/201 7 TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS FOUR KEY ADVANTAGES OF A STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM 1. Curricular Cohesion – Defining cross-curricular and cross-grade level essential learnings, and cross-grade content standards within each subject area, being valuable cohesion to a curriculum. 2. Focused on key or essential learning – both across subject areas and grade levels, as well as within a specific subject area. 3. Recognition of professional autonomy – Teachers are free to use any teaching method or approach as long as pupils are able to demonstrate mastery of the learning outcomes, as indicated by their attainment on the performance standards and associated assessment tasks. 4. Establishment of a direct and explicit link between learning and assessment. The establishment of clear performance standards for each grade level and subject area, align to the learning outcomes, provides an objective and consistent basis for teachers, schools, school districts and national assessment programs to determine the extent to which pupils are meeting expectations. © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 17. 23/07/201 7 TOWARDS CURRICULUM-STANDARDS CONCLUSION- FINAL WORD Moving towards a standards-based curriculum SHOULD be informed by international benchmarking and MUST begin with research-based learning progressions detailing what is known about how students’ knowledge, skills, and understanding develop over time. © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017
  • 18. 23/07/201 7 THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION. Email: p.armah15@aberdeen.ac.uk © Dr. Prince H. Armah 2017