Tools for Action
Curriculum Quality and Access for Success
A school’s curriculum outlines what students who attend the school will learn. A high-quality curriculum is essential to success for all students, which means, it is built on high expectations for students with quality and relevant content, that it effectively incorporates materials and other learning resources like technology, and that it is delivered in a language the student understands. All students must have access to all three elements.
A Snapshot of What IDRA is Doing
Developing leaders – IDRA has been working with teachers in several schools to demonstrate strategies for technology integration. An emphasis is that technology should less be used as a tool for instruction, meaning a way to disseminate information, than as an instructional tool through which students learn to use technology tools while supporting their learning of the content.
Conducting research – IDRA is currently conducting a local evaluation as part of a larger national evaluation to determine the efficacy of two reading programs selected by a group of reading experts based on well-known principles of reading instruction. IDRA is studying one of the 10 school districts in the country. Four high schools in the district were randomly assigned to implement one of two supplemental reading programs. The evaluation will provide researchers, policymakers, school administrators, teachers and parents with important information about the impact of students’ learning in both of these comprehensive models and about what works in supporting academic literacy for adolescents in general.
Informing policy – IDRA provided testimony in 2006 as an expertise witness in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, Civil Action No. 6:71-CV-5281 involving the provision of appropriate educational programs and equal educational opportunities for limited-English-proficient students. IDRA’s testimony focused on the impact of the state’s process of aggregating student performance data across grade levels resulting in district average scores and on an alternative approach that would apply the same performance criteria at the school (rather than district) level. This past July, Judge William Wayne Justice ruled the Texas Education Agency has violated the civil rights of Spanish-speaking students under the federal Equal Education Opportunity Act as state-approved language programs have not improved the performance of secondary students with limited English skills.
Engaging communities – IDRA’s Technology-Enhanced Community Neighborhood Organizations (TECNO) project is working with four community centers located in West Side San Antonio to provide community-based college support to low-income Hispanic and other minority 11th- and 12th-grade students and their families. This project will provide information about college access and help students complete college and financial aid applications. TECNO centers offer direct access and personalized technology support for students, parents and families, resources and information about college access and success, a mentoring system staffed by college students and retired high school and college counselors, support to parents and other non-traditional learners in the community by establishing a bridge between aspirations and access to college, and available resources.
What You Can Do
Get informed. Parents in Texas can review the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to see what their children should be learning each year. Visit http://www.tea.state.tx.us/teks/#teksbygrade to view the TEKS, which are available in English for K-12 and in Spanish for grades K-6 in math, science, social studies, English language arts and reading. State standards are public information so parents and communities in any state should request them from their district or state education agency.
Get involved. Teachers’ Domain is an online library of classroom resources that include video and audio segments, Flash interactives, images, documents, lesson plans for teachers, and student-oriented activities. Teachers’ Domain strives to strengthen teacher knowledge by providing innovative teaching methods that incorporate technology in the classroom and inspire students to learn. Visit http://www.teachersdomain.org/ for more information.
Get results. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has unveiled its 2008 Educational Technology Standards for Teachers. The new standards "emphasize the need for teachers to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity, to design and develop digital-age learning experiences and assessments, to model digital-age work and learning, to promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility, and to engage in professional growth and leadership." See the standards at: http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_for_Teachers_2008.htm.
Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[©2008, IDRA. The following article originally appeared in the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Every effort has been made to maintain the content in its original form. However, accompanying charts and graphs may not be provided here. To receive a copy of the original article by mail or fax, please fill out our information request and feedback form. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author