The course of study, developed to be presented in sequence and to meet specific goals, offered by an educational institution for its students.
The curriculum of a school or other educational institution is the structured course of study its students follow. Public, independent, and parochial schools, while differing in their respective approaches to education and classroom format, each establish a formal statement of educational goals or mission and develop a plan to meet those goals. The plan is generally comprised of specific learning objectives achieved through study of subjects such as science, mathematics, literature, and history.
In the United States, there has never been a national curriculum established, although many countries have such a curriculum. Since 1983, when the Department of Education published A Nation at Risk, the following basic high school curriculum has been recommended: four years of English; three years of mathematics; three years of science, including physical and biological science; one-half year of computer science; and two years of foreign-language study for students planning to go to college.
School districts may offer more than one type of curriculum depending on the needs, interests, and abilities of the students for whom the curriculum is designed. For example, the student who intends to apply to college will need to follow an academic curriculum; alternatively, the student who plans to enter the workforce after high school may select a vocational curriculum. Other students may choose a general curriculum. Some schools cover the same material, but at different rates, across all curricula. For example, the academic curriculum for students who are college-bound might cover material in two years that students taking the general curriculum will cover in three years. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a curriculum of study developed to meet the special interests of a student with a disability.
|Subject||Kindergarten-Grade 3||Grades 4-6||Grades 7 and 8|
|English||introduction to reading and writing||Introduction to critical reading||Grade 7: Survey of elementary grammar and composition|
|Grade 8: Survey of elementary literary analysis|
|Social studies||Introduction to history, geography, and civics||Grade 4: U.S. history to the Civil War|
|Grade 5: U.S. history since 1865|
|Grade 6: World history to the Middle Ages|
|Mathematics||Introduction to mathematics||Intermediate arithmetic and geometry||Two from among these courses: algebra, pre-algebra, or general math|
|Science||Introduction to science||Grade 4: Earth science||Grade 7: Biology|
|Grade 5: Life science||Grade 8: Chemistry and physics|
|Grade 5: Physical science|
|Foreign language||Optional||Introduction to foreign language||Formal language study|
|Fine arts||Music and visual art||Music and visual art||Music appreciation and art appreciation|
|Physical education/health||Physical education and health||Physical education and health||Physical education and health|
Every state publishes guidelines for its schools districts to follow in designing their curricula. In most cases, citizens of the state may receive a copy of the state guidelines by contacting the office of the education in the state government. In the states that administer proficiency or achievement tests to all students, the tests are generally devised to evaluate each student's ability. A curriculum may then be selected according to those abilities.
An independent (private) or parochial school may offer special courses, such as religious studies, as part of its overall curriculum. According to the National Association of Independent Schools, there are no general guidelines or structured curricula followed by the independent schools in the United States.
Drake, Susan M. Planning Integrated Curriculum: The Call to Adventure. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1993.
English, Fenwick W. Deciding What To Teach and Test: Developing, Aligning, and Auditing the Curriculum. Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press, 1992.
Borman, Kathryn M. and Nancy P. Greenman, eds. Changing American Education: Recapturing the Past or Inventing the Future? Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.
Gunter, Mary Alice, Thomas H. Estes, and Jan Schwab. In struction: A Models Approach. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995.
McNeil, John D. Curriculum: A Comprehensive Introduction. 4th ed. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman/Little, Brown Higher Education, 1990.
Posner, George J. and Alan N. Rudnitsky. Course Design: A Guide to Curriculum Development for Teachers. 4th ed. New York: Longman, 1994.
Tanner, Laurel N., ed. Critical Issues in Curriculum. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.
Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development
Address: 1250 North Pitt Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-1453
Telephone: (800) 933-2723; (703) 549-9110
website: http://www.ascd.org; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Organization of 180,000 educators and others dedicated to improving education; publishes the journal Educational Leadership; newsletters; and sponsors conferences.)
National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
Address: 1620 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 973-9700
(Publishes Principles of Good Practice for K-12, which includes general guidelines for curriculum development.)