Research Paper Example on Standards-Based Curriculum

7 pages
1840 words
Wesleyan University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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The instructional setting, I intend on implying revolves around the notion that there is no effective methodology to develop a curriculum especially for children with autism who are young and in their learning and developmental stages. The curriculum I have in mind might be adequate for my particular set of students, but the same curriculum might fail in another institution. The fact that I am dealing with students who have special needs makes the instruction setting specific. I have engineered it to cater to every student on an individual basis so that all students are taught as per their particular skill set and their preference and capacity. The conclusive decision on my instructional setting is that it is an individualized curriculum that caters and advocates for the development, uniqueness, and independence of these students with autism so that they become fully functional self-sustaining adults proficient in what they do (Olley, 1999).

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Due to the understanding and extensive research done on autism over the past three decades, new information has brought about the development of working systems that focuses on the special needs of people with autism and their education. Using all this knowledge at my disposal, I have developed both theoretical and practical approaches for my students which is very dynamic since it further goes to cater to each of the students on an individual basis. To deal with my students goes beyond just passing on knowledge and information. Everything has to take a psychological consideration which first of all focuses on how to deal with these students, and then how to teach them and be specific to their needs. Applications in my curriculum involve the use of instructional settings that incorporates problem and behavior analysis, student engagement through learning basic, intermediate to comprehensive attributes such as social skills, organizational skills, sports and arts, vocational skills, self-indulgent tendencies, and cognition (Olley, 1999). All this is incorporated into my instructional setting for my students with special needs. Priority is given to the student rather than the curriculum which can be modified to meet the needs of the students with autism. Kindergarteners and students in the first and second grades are in a very critical stage of learning where they grasp more than the intellectual input given. They understand the world around them, how to behave, how to think, and how to relate to one another This is what makes my instructional setting ideal as a result of its flexibility and dynamism.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Standards-Based Curriculum

A standards-based curriculum is a very traditional way to approach education in this age. With advancements in all fields of society and the vast knowledge and input from all walks of life, the literature and research developed to give the reason on how to efficiently come up with better, efficient, and suitable programs. Furthermore, a standard when it comes to things such as education, especially for students with special needs, is becoming a vague idea. Even for non-disabled, normal, and healthy students, subjecting them to a standards-based curriculum limits their potential since it creates an unfair criterion on the judgment of the potential these students have. To offer a level playing field, it is essential to, first of all, understand every student is unique. Then develop a system that focuses on this uniqueness which will ensure success for all the students. The world failure in schools would become redundant. Students good in music will not be forced to be great in mathematics. This does not mean a standards-based curriculum is terrible and ineffective. Necessary skills such as communication, basic arithmetic, social skills, and basic scientific concepts. Hence, a thorough analysis of the standards-based curriculum gives the following pros and cons.

Strength of a Standards-Based Curriculum

With a standards-based curriculum, guidelines exist that depict what needs to be taught and what needs to be known. This makes it easier to continuously pass on valid and unambiguous information to students which they require for their present and future lives. This type of curriculum comes with a practical framework that instructors and teachers like me use to teach students effectively. And the knowledge is also universally agreed or agreed on in a particular state between instructors. Such universal principles are the ones that give basis to most facts that are dispensed to students. Students also get an equal opportunity to be assessed as well as to be selected for other possibilities such as college based on an equal basis of testing and examination. A standards-based education system like all others has the ultimate goal of vocation, the individual and economic success of individuals and the society. This curriculum is cheaper for both students and instructors, students can change schools easily and fit in, and the teacher training is not too detailed. The standards-based curriculum also focuses on visual skills with an objective outcome being expected of every student. The basic pattern of learning is teaching then assessment which is an easy task to partake in and move on to the next level. A standards-based curriculum is a research-based curriculum designed to focus on students in its entirety. This means that the curriculum takes students from the time they start learning to the time they become self-sufficient functioning adults (Sweetland, 2016).

With standards-based curriculums comes standards-based grading (SBG) which is seen to assist students in learning better through an assessment program that has high expectations which makes students more proficient. All this ensures high-performance standards are developed and maintained. SBG shows primary focus on the specific skills students possess and need to work on to ascertain future success and expertise where parents are also informed on this and on how their children are performing in school work and co-curricular activities. Since SBG focuses on results and future success, it allows for superintendents and curriculum coordinators to develop evaluation and assessment programs that ensure the curriculum works best. SBG instills discipline and instruction to students and teachers and allows for instructors to differentiate curriculum needs as well as give comments specific to those needs (Weebly Editors, 2015).

The Weaknesses of a Standards-Based Curriculum

The weaknesses of a standards-based curriculum range from the delivery of the content to the ultimate goal the curriculum intend to achieve. Every school is unique and different with different students and teachers hence subjecting to a standard curriculum might favor a specific institution and limit others. The standards-based curriculum focuses on the result of a student through the external assessment which is a shallow analysis of a student's potential where the product is more important than the process. The curriculum comes with the needs of the society preceding the needs of an individual student where the authentic purpose of the student is disregarded. The standards-based curriculum gives teachers too much power, an official approach, or a technocrat that limits students. This curriculum also subjects students to compete with one another more than working together for a common goal. The system emphasizes assessment of memory and cramming rather than understanding, hence advocates for low level and superficial knowledge. Standards-based curriculum limits and destroys the creativity of the students and teachers who follow a developed syllabus strictly. Consequently, this leased to imposed ideologies such as religion and historical interpretations. The standards-based curriculum has narrow scopes which are the main focus of learning rather than the skills, capacity, and expertise of each and every student (Sweetland, 2016).

The SBG has the disadvantage of the creation of report cards that relay a standardized assessment review of each student. This creates technical difficulty when trying to give comments and recommendations for each student. The test is not fair to the strengths and weaknesses they have. The parents of these students also believe there are not enough categories that will cater to all the needs and skills of their children especially those with special needs. SBG is responsible for unclear and vague analysis of students in many categories which cannot be a defining basis for a student's future. SBG also makes parents, students, teachers, and society only focus on the ranking and objective success it comes with rather than the knowledge a student acquires. Hence grades become the priority rather than the skill and expertise a student has acquired to use in their future endeavors (Weebly Editors, 2015).

Curriculum Alignment

My instructional curriculum incorporates both standard-based strategies as well as my personalized ideologies on how students should be educated. Moreover, dealing with younger developing students with special needs adds more detail to the curriculum I have developed. Hence these three factors have allowed for the development of the student-specific instructional setting curriculum which will work well for kindergarteners to second graders whom I will come across with the resources I have at my disposal in the institution I am working for. Communication, organization skills, presentation skills, cognition, social skills, independence as well as collaboration are all of the critical considerations in my curriculum. Primary education of scientific principles, language, and literature, geography, and history among other disciplines will also be part of the learning experience with opinionated ideologies such as religion being left out until the students are mature enough to make such decisions for themselves (Gray & Garand, 1993). The practical and interactive sessions, outdoor sessions, and indoor sessions will be incorporated into the curriculum. Individual one on one sessions and projects in all disciplines of choice are highly encouraged.

This curriculum aligns with the standards-based curriculum in areas like assessment. No curriculum exists without evaluation of its success. This is through assessment and evaluation of the students to determine if the system is active or it is failing. Students will be subjected to a variety of tests and examinations that will depict how the students are faring on with the curriculum. The difference between my curriculum and a standards-based curriculum is that assessment is unique and specific. It is not a standardized and unified evaluation. Each student is evaluated based on their particular weaknesses and strengths with the analysis of these results giving a better understanding of what the student needs and how the student can be helped to realize their full potential. The evaluation is not standardized for all. The students, especially those with special needs cannot be graded and ranked since their assessment is differed entirely and designed for their specific needs hence there can be no failures in such a program. The focus is on the process. How do these students with autism acquire knowledge, skills, and expertise through time, through working together, working with each other, with teachers, and with their parents? (Handleman & Harris, 2001)

The downside of this curriculum is that it is very involving and requires a lot of concentration and record-keeping to focus on the needs, learning, strengths, and weaknesses of each of these students. This needs a lot of time and a lot of resources. A lot of parties also need to be involved where some instructors may be required for a specific class of students and to their parents and psychological experts. Even though the curriculum is thorough and effective, it can be cu...

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