Take a look at the bottom third of the DCPS organizational chart and you’ll find a box representing the Office of Curriculum and Instruction. Which is peculiar because for the last few years the District has had no curriculum— a document specifying what will be taught and when—to speak of.
Former superintendent Clifford Janey imported new academic standards and a new test, the DC CAS, but ran out of time before he could implement a new curriculum aligned to them. His successor, Michelle A. Rhee, invested much of her energy in the “how” of teaching, introducing what she regarded as a common language for effective instruction in the form of the Teaching and Learning Framework and IMPACT.
The “what” and “when” were left sort of hanging.
Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson has launched a three-year project to give every subject and grade level a curriculum. The effort will begin this fall with English language arts in grades two through 10. Math will follow in 2012. All teachers will get “scope and sequence” materials and unit plans, Henderson said, and will also be able to administer a “paced assessment” more directly aligned to the curriculum than the DC Benchmark Assessment System.
At the moment, DCPS teachers are expected to work with the standards to derive their own lessons and unit plans. Henderson said that may not be the best use of their time.
“Teachers are spending a whole lot of time making up curricula,” she said. She said that the District is working closely with the architects of the Common Core state standards — to which D.C. is committed--to make sure the curriculum lines up.