It is important to help our students reach their full potential. The majority of our children come from upper-middle class families and do not face the same issues as students at at-risk schools. Moreover, our school depends on students’ tuition, thereby relying heavily on their parents’ satisfaction. Our financial dependence on parents requires us to consider parents’ wishes and attitudes in curriculum planning and implementation. I admire Ms. New’s ambition to further challenge our students; however, I also agree with Ms. Vet that the current curriculum and method have been efficient in reaching quite satisfactory academic performance in our institution and have also kept the parents satisfied with their children’s education. Hence, the task in front of us is to find a balanced curriculum that will challenge our students while maintaining parents’ satisfaction.
Our Goal is to increase students’ performance and continue to meet state academic standards. The approved changes should be integrated into students’ academic curriculum gradually, and their influence should be thoroughly monitored. Standardized tests have proven to be inefficient since they have been used as means of school and teacher evaluations. I propose each department to create a sequence of student performance evaluation tests based on our student body. The diagnostic test should measure students’ communication and critical thinking skills while the following test will be subject oriented. These tests will not be used to penalize students or teachers; they will be utilized to diagnose and monitor the effects of the new curriculum.
I would like all teachers in each department to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having a strictly textbook oriented curriculum. The following questions should be considered:
Next, all the teachers should discuss the purpose of their classroom time:
From my perspective, the school cannot have a textbook free or a textbook only curriculum. Today’s students are used to interactive computer applications and feel detached from the traditional school’s learning methods. It is important to transform classrooms into interactive environments where students will be able to actively engage in the learning process, rather than be passive listeners. Textbooks are a great source of knowledge and information, but they relate more to teachers than to students. For students, textbooks often bear complicated and uninteresting data. Certain subjects, like math and natural sciences, could be continued to be taught by means of textbooks. However, information in these textbooks should be supplemented with interactive videos, home quizzes and online puzzles, which would be directed to stimulate the students’ critical thinking skills. On the other hand, there exist subjects that can be mastered better without textbooks. For example, history can be taught through non-fiction books that tell certain stories while teaching history. Moreover, it is important to note the significance of individual research and group learning in classrooms.
The curriculum should be adjusted after students have taken the diagnostic tests designed by each department. This means that the proposed curriculum modification should consider three different approaches based on students’ performance on the test. Cohorts of students belonging to below average, average and above average levels should each have a unique academic curriculum based on their needs and skills. Hence, each department needs to design their tests and curricula by the end of summer. Our teachers should understand that they will need to work together throughout the year to modify the curriculum based on students’ performance. Ms. Vet is certainly correct to note that the current curriculum guarantees satisfactory performance while a new one will be experimental and less stable. However, it is important for our school to achieve better students’ performance; thus, we all should work together to find balance in our academic curriculum.
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