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Frequently Asked Questions

Why was there an external curriculum review?

As indicated by Policy IFA, Curriculum, a periodic review of the curriculum is required and was scheduled. To better understand how we may build on what is working and identify areas for improvement, MCPS contracted with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to conduct a comprehensive review and analysis of the MCPS written, taught, and learned curriculum. The purpose of the review was to assess the alignment of the MCPS written, taught, and learned curriculum with the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core) and provide technical advice and expertise to identify possible actions to address areas in need of improvement. A summary can be found here.

What did the curriculum review include?

The curriculum review focused on English Language Arts and Mathematics, Kindergarten through Grade 8, by studying the following areas:

Written Curriculum
The written curriculum review is designed to determine whether instructional materials are aligned to the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards. The process involved a comprehensive review of the overall structure of Curriculum 2.0, including, for example, the scope and sequence as well as a review of a subset of the units in one grade per grade band (pre-K–2, 3–5, and 6–8) in both ELA/Literacy and mathematics up to Algebra 1. The reviewers assessed the availability, alignment, and quality of embedded supports within the curriculum for second language learners and other special populations.

Taught Curriculum: Surveys, Focus Groups and Observations
A teacher survey was conducted to gather information on teacher/user experience with Curriculum 2.0, including its accessibility on the MCPS platform. The survey focused on instructional materials and the taught curriculum, and any discrepancies between adopted instructional materials and instruction in the classroom.

To identify the inconsistencies between the written and taught curriculum, the JHU team conducted focus groups with a variety of stakeholders, including a representative sampling
of classroom teachers and a range of students. Approximately 80 classrooms in 20 elementary
and middle schools were observed.

Learned Curriculum
Student artifacts gathered during classroom observations were analyzed to review the alignment of the written curriculum with classroom instruction. The JHU team also analyzed
district-developed and external assessment student results to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement.

What did the report say?

Findings and recommendations of the review can be found here. The findings reinforce the notion that in order for MCPS to maintain the highest quality instructional materials for teachers and students, the time is right for MCPS to move away from a model that relies on utilizing internal teachers for writing curriculum and assessments, to a model based on adopting external curriculum developed by curriculum and assessment experts.

MCPS has a long history of developing curriculum. Why purchase external resources?

The quality of externally developed curriculum has improved significantly over the past few years. Externally developed curricula provide the benefit of frequent and ongoing modifications and online platforms that are regularly updated based on trends in technology and user feedback. Externally developed curricula also offer strong advantages in terms of readily available materials for struggling or advanced students, as well as various resources for special needs and English Language Learners.

Through external evidence-based research and reviews, several ELA and mathematics externally developed curricula are highly rated for their alignment with the Common Core State Standards. This evidences a significant development since the early days of the Common Core when there were few external products of sufficiently high quality. Well-aligned curricular products were not available when Curriculum 2.0 development was initiated in the 2009–2010 school year.

What are the next steps and timeline?

MCPS will transition over a multiyear period at the elementary and middle school levels to ensure effective implementation and support to schools, beginning with a subset of schools in selected courses in 2018-2019. Beyond Algebra 1 in high school, additional plans for expansion of new instructional materials have not been determined. A multi-stakeholder group will be assembled to review several curricular options in mathematics and literacy. (link to timelines)

How will schools be selected?

To ensure effective implementation and support to schools, the introduction of new curricular materials will begin with a subset of schools in 2018-2019, through a voluntary process. Principals have received information that will be shared with staff and parent leadership, to ensure collaborative decision making about the opportunity to opt in. For the first year:

Year 1 Implementation Plan:

  • K-5 Math (subset of 30 schools)
  • K-5 Literacy (subset of 30 schools)
  • Science (all schools)
  • Middle: English 6, Math 6 (subset of 15-20 middle schools)

A tentative multi-year implementation plan is found below:

 

ELA
Number of Schools for Curricula Implementation

Mathematics
Number of Schools for Curricula Implementation

Year

K – Grade 5

Grade 6

Grades 7-8

K – Grade 5

Grade 6

Grades 7-8

High School Algebra I

2018-2019

30 schools

20 schools

None

30 schools

20 schools

None

15 schools

2019-2020

70 schools

20 schools

40 schools

70 schools

20 schools

40 schools

10 schools

2020-2021

35 schools

35 schools

None

 

             

Total*

135 schools

40 schools

40 schools

135 schools

40 schools

40 schools

25 schools

 

Will there be any flexibility in the timeline for the identification of curriculum products or rollout of new curriculum to schools?

MCPS staff will monitor the process timeline for the identification of curricular products as well as the school implementation rollout timeline. If it is determined that additional time is needed during the product identification or school rollout processes, MCPS will make modifications to the current timeline. Consequently, if it is determine that the curriculum rollout to schools is moving smoothly, and there are interests for more schools to implement curriculum earlier than outlined in the current plan, then a change in timeline will be considered. This is particularly true in Year 2 of the rollout plan. It is not expected that MCPS will implement new curriculum in more schools than are currently identified in Year 1 of the plan.

 What about schools who are not using the new curricular materials in 2018-2019?

Schools not using the new curriculum in year one of implementation will have the opportunity to opt in in years two or three.

How will stakeholders be involved?

Stakeholders have the opportunity to provide feedback online through a survey (link). In addition, individuals will be identified through stakeholder organizations to participate in feedback sessions during the months of April, May, and June.

Will there be additional testing with the new curriculum?

No. There is a mandated state cap on testing at each grade level. Although we anticipate there will be new assessments aligned to the new curriculum (replacing current district assessments), time on district, state, and national assessments will remain within the currently mandated limit. Information on the state law regarding assessments can be found at this link.

When will professional learning be provided for teachers participating in the implementation of new curriculum during the 2018-2019 school year?

Following the school selection process, teachers at the participating schools will be informed about summer training. Teachers will receive professional learning during the summer of 2018. In addition, additional professional learning opportunities will be provided throughout the school year.

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