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Baltimore Co. needs a lesson in curriculum development

I couldn't agree more emphatically with letter writer Tony DiStephano that the new Common Core curriculum is ill-timed and lacks appropriate resources ("Common Core isn't ready for prime time," Oct. 1).

He correctly refers to the orderly way in which substantive curriculum change took place in Baltimore County as recently as the 1990s.

Whenever a new approach was offered (usually by a major university) several experienced teachers were chosen to participate in the writing and development of that approach and to pilot it with one or more of their regular classes. These pilot teachers met regularly to share outcomes and assess what was workable and what was not — an initial "weeding" process. In good time, summer workshops were scheduled drawing on the writing and editorial skills of teachers, department chairpersons and subject matter supervisors. The products of these workshops, curriculum guides, laboratory guides and resource materials, were immediately in demand by other school systems throughout the country.

For some reason, that process has been severely altered or abandoned altogether. The real problem is not the Common Core approach as such. The fundamental defect is the curriculum vacuum produced by the abandonment of the orderly process by which good curriculum can evolve into better curriculum.

I'm not going to denigrate Superintendent Dallas Dance's role in this crisis. He has enough on his plate. But if he could make one change that would have a lasting positive effect on the development and steady improvement of curriculum and the morale of instructional staff, it would be to reestablish that orderly process that assured constant improvement of what teachers are expected to follow in the classroom.

Donald A. Roberts, Rossville

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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