- As students begin taking new science tests nationwide, teachers who have seen early practice tests are concerned they haven’t covered enough material so their pupils are prepared, Education Week reports.
- More than 40 states have adopted new science standards, but a number of schools say their students have never taken classes on some of these subjects, nor do they have the resources to hire educators to teach them. Additionally, schools are approaching these subjects in different ways, with some blending the different disciplines together and others teaching each as a separate course.
- Officials in California, which is among states that adopted new science standards, for example, are bracing for learning and testing gaps over the first couple of years as the new curriculum is implemented.
Each change in educational policy, from accountability to curriculum requirements, necessitates adjustments for teachers, administrators and students alike. New standards and the tests that come with them can bring a period where learning is disrupted, and where new curriculum may not dovetail with what was taught the year prior.
District curriculum directors shouldn't overlook parents, either, when considering who may be affected by new academic courses and approaches. As students adjust to a different curriculum — and perhaps even struggle — district leaders may want to help parents understand what is happening, and why, so they can manage their expectations.
For example, test scores can dip as new curriculum is put into play — often referred to as a “first-year dip.” That’s what happened to some students in Detroit Public Schools. While, overall, the new curriculum changes in the district have been positive, educators had to do some heavy lifting to help support students through the rollout.
Some of that support included giving teachers time to work together, through weekly sessions where they could share with each other what's working or not. This should, of course, dovetail with whatever professional development is necessary so teachers are prepared to help students understand new material and also see when pupils may be struggling.
Another approach district leaders can take is considering rolling out curriculum more slowly so students and teachers have time to get up to speed. Then, educators can have enough time to prepare, and students can have the time to absorb their lessons and get the help they may need to succeed.