Frequently Asked Questions

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

There were many lessons learned from MCPS’ writing of Curriculum 2.0. In 2008 when MCPS began the development of Curriculum 2.0 quality curriculum aligned with common core standards were not available. Using teachers and central office MCPS wrote Curriculum 2.0. In the intervening years, not only have quality curricular products become available on the market, but MCPS has a deeper understanding of the infrastructure needed to support a curriculum once it is implemented. For example, it takes a tremendous amount of labor to continuously update curriculum and assessments so that the curriculum does not become stale or static. Using teachers as primary developers of curriculum limits the amount of resources MCPS has to update, maintain, and support the curriculum. It also limits teachers having time to work with their peers on perfecting their craft. A purchased curriculum will come with an infrastructure designed primarily to update and support the curriculum, allowing MCPS content specialist and teachers to focus on supporting teachers as they implement the curriculum.

When will a new Request for Proposals (RFP) be issued?

A new RFP process will begin in the fall. This will avoid asking for participation from the greater MCPS community during the summer months when many people have set obligations, and vacation plans.

If MCPS is delaying the RFP process when will MCPS begin implementing a new curriculum?

Building on the feedback from process participants, MCPS will launch the new process in the fall with initial implementation no later than the 2019–2020 school year.

Will currently selected schools be the ones to participate in the initial implementation, or will the entire process restart?

Schools that were select will be in the first cohort to implement a new curriculum.

What will MCPS do with the community feedback it has already received?

MCPS will use the feedback already received in both crafting a new RFP and in considering any new proposals.

Will there still be an opportunity for community input?

Yes, there will continue to be opportunities for the community to provide input. .

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.

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.