from the effort to compare and evaluate, then the information available to those who must choose among curricula is diminished. Thousands of schools and teachers must then bear a much heavier burden of information collection.

A comprehensive evaluation process that does not rank-order curricula, but rather evaluates them on an array of relevant features is recommended. A sample of such features taken from this volume includes the extent to which the curriculum draws out preconceptions; whether it includes embedded assessment (both formative and summative), the extent to which it places information in the relevant conceptual framework, the extent to which curriculum modules can be reconfigured in ways that allow teachers to meet particular goals and needs, and the extent to which it encourages the development of metacognitive skills. Other useful information on the curriculum would include the extent and results of field-testing, the length of time it has been in use, the number of schools or school districts that have adopted it, the opportunities for teacher learning, and the amount and kind of support available to teachers using the curriculum. Information on student response to and interest in the curriculum would be useful as well.

Evaluating curricula in terms of their relevant features that align with the principles in this volume is a massive undertaking. For its ultimate success, such evaluations will need to represent expert judgments coming from different perspectives, including the subject-matter discipline, master teachers, learning and pedagogy experts, and curriculum developers. Users of an interactive communications site that publishes these judgments can then weigh the expertise they consider most useful for guiding their choice of curricula. The site should invite their feedback on experiences with using the curricula that this information led them to select. Ideally, the communications site will make it easy for teachers to access information that is directly relevant to their particular goals and needs.

Success will also require a growing group of constituencies and experts who can carry forward the principles in this volume to evaluating curricula.


The research and development proposed in this section is designed, once again, to achieve three goals: (a) to look first at existing practice through the lens of this volume, (b) to advance understanding in ways that would facilitate alignment of teacher preparation with principles of learning, and (c) to make the findings of this research more widely accessible and easily understood. The recommended research is described in seven project areas.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement