Do’s and don’ts of curriculum evaluation
Curriculum development teams must review and select resources that align with standards, grade-level expectations and assessments.
During the review process, a team should typically review five or more different resources and narrow them down to two, according to Align the Design, an ASCD publication co-authored by Ann Mausbach and Nancy J. Mooney in 2008.
The chosen materials are piloted in the next phase. During this process, keep school board members informed, as they may need to approve the new curriculum.
Another critical phase of the process is ongoing staff development, Mausbach and Mooney say.
They offer best practices when adopting new instructional materials:
- develop a materials review form prior to looking at any products.
- send representatives from the curriculum development team to state and national conferences to speak with publishers.
- request samples from publishers, and set up an exhibit to review those materials at the district level.
- pilot all materials with students for an extended period of time. Make sure that the teachers who are participating in the pilot use all materials with their students for at least six to eight weeks.
- expect instruction to improve, and if it does, collect evidence to monitor the difference.
- fall into the trap of rushing to review glitzy packages.
- rush into bringing publishers into the district to speak to the team.
- be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to adopting materials. If the materials in the pilot fail to meet the needs of students, take a step back and think differently about what may be needed.
- forget to design professional development that puts the responsibility for implementing the curriculum at the building level.
- hesitate to regroup and reexamine the curriculum as needed.