September 26, 2010 by

Eight Questions Educators Should Ask About Curriculum

Eight Questions Educators Should Ask About Curriculum provides educators with a starting point.  Curriculum development without reflection and renewal is not in the best interests of students.

Students deserve to have a high-quality education which prepares them for college and the workforce.  It is unethical for a student to receive a K-12 educational experience which is dramatically different because of the school assignment, teacher assignment, the availability of educational resources or the state the student resides in.

Consider using Eight Questions Educators Should Ask About Curriculum.  You may use the questions with a large group of teachers or with your fifth-grade team.  The answers to these questions will guide your work as you continue to develop and revise curriculum which supports teaching and learning.

Eight Questions Educators Should Ask About Curriculum

  1. Does our school district have a document which outlines Essential Learning Outcomes for each course?
  2. Do teachers have the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback regarding the school district’s curriculum?
  3. Does the curriculum include skills which prepare students for college-readiness and the 21stcentury  workforce?
  4. Are teachers using the curriculum to guide decisions about instruction and assessment?
  5. What are the strengths of our curriculum
  6. What are the weaknesses of our curriculum?
  7. If I had a son or daughter enrolled in this school district, would I be satisfied with the written curriculum
  8. What would I change?

What should every student know and be able to do?

This may be the most fundamental question asked by K-12 curriculum developers.  According to Jay McTighe (2010), “The most successful teaching begins with clarity about important learning outcomes and about the evidence that will show that learning has occurred” (p. 274).

What can school administrators do?

Provide classroom teachers with uninterrupted time during the workday or on early release days to focus on curriculum development and curriculum revision.  Many teachers state that they desire to participate in collaborative conversations, but the central office staff or the building administrators conduct so many other meetings that curriculum conversations get lost in the shuffle.

What can teachers do?

Using Web 2.0 tools such as a curriculum blog, wiki, threaded discussion, Skype or Google Docs will allow teachers to communicate with their grade level and with teachers in other disciplines and across the school district.  While this is no substitute for the time that administrators should provide teachers, these online tools make communication possible 24/7.  Collaborative decisions can be made prior to the meeting and the online collaboration will allow each teacher to use face-to-face meetings for the topics that require a face-to-face meeting.

Why is K-12 Curriculum Development important?

“Curriculum for school districts is no longer ‘just nice to have.’  A curriculum is a necessity for furthering student achievement.  Further, school districts through their curricula, have the tools at their disposal to control and ensure what students learn” (Squires, 2009, p. 133).


Steven Weber is the executive director of curriculum and instruction for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (N.C.). He is also on the North Carolina ASCD board. Connect with Weber on ASCD EDge® or on Twitter @curriculumblog.

MacKenzie Masten is the Social Media Strategist for ASCD and Managing Editor for Inservice. She is the voice behind ASCD's social media presence and her writing can be found on Inservice and ThinkFun Education. You can connect with her @kenziemasten.