Sunday, September 28, 2008

Curriculum Pacing Guides

If you haven't read the latest issue of Ed. Leadership yet, let me give you another reason to pick it up. The issue features a two-page article summarizing the research on Pacing Guides.

The article indicates that pacing guides are not inherently bad, but too often the manner in which they are used results in narrowing the curriculum, fragmenting knowledge into test related pieces, and increasing teacher-centered instruction.

Most guides do not address student reasoning and teachers rarely deviate from the guides. In contrast, Japanese pacing guides describe student solutions to problems and describe how teachers can build on student thinking during instruction.

Recommendations - Guides Should:

  • Emphasize curriculum guidance, rather than prescriptive pacing.
  • Focus on central ideas.
  • Provide links to exemplary curriculum materials, lessons, and instructional strategies.

I would further recommend that administrators consider how the prescriptive use of pacing guides impedes implementation of professional development initiatives. Frequently PD initiatives focus on student-centered instructional strategies to deepen understanding. However, if coverage of content is emphasized over conceptual understanding in pacing guides, it creates a conflict for teachers and the administrators who evaluate them.

David, J.L. (October, 2008). Pacing guides. Educational Leadership. p.87-88.


kstarosta said...

Having been in "sped world" for a while, I don't quite understand the role of gen ed curricula and pacing guides. In sped, things tend to be more DI (not differentiated instruction, but direct instruction!) and we want consistency, and so the role of the teacher is pretty prescribed. But what is a gen ed teacher to do? Follow the curriculum? Follow a tangent? It seems there's a lot of room for teacher judgement (good or bad!).

sowingthereads said...

I am trying to complete an internship in curriclum and instruction in Western PA, part of which includes a language arts pacing guide. The information in the EL artilce was helpful because I don't feel like I need to prescribe a step-by-step approach to teaching. Since I do not have 100% cooperation, I was considering abandoning the project, now I feel like I may be able to put together a resource that will be helpful to teachers.
I'm not sure what it will look like, but I am thinking of an online document that links to curriculum related references and tools.
Sorry for the long post, but that article was right on time as they say.