CDRP Frequently Asked Questions
- Why are we embarking on a formal Curriculum Design and Review Process?
- What exactly do I have to do?
- What does a written curriculum for a given level/course consist of?
- Does that mean I have to teach the same as everyone else?
- Why are we doing this now before a schedule change?
- Isn’t this WASC work? Why are we doing it now?
- Didn’t I just do this curriculum review when I conducted the AP audit?
- I teach at three or four levels. Do I have to work with my colleagues at each level?
- This will take time. What kind of release time will we have to do the work?
- I am somewhat unclear as to what some of the terminology means in the CDRP inventory. How can I get help?
- Is there a place where I can access CDRP information?
1. Why are we embarking on a formal Curriculum Design and Review Process?
We already do CDRP informally every day. Every time we brainstorm with a colleague, talk about how our kids did on the last exam, or trade stories in the faculty room, we engage in informal curriculum review. This process allows us to formalize what good teachers instinctually do.
Establishing a school culture of collaborative and ongoing curriculum review is one of the key hallmarks of high performing schools. In “A New Definition” published in the Journal of Staff Development this month, Stephanie Hirsch argues, “Good teaching occurs when educators on teams are involved in a cycle in which they analyze data, determine student and adult learning goals based on that analysis, design joint lessons that use evidence-based strategies, have access to coaches for support in improving their classroom instruction, and then assess how their learning and teamwork affect student achievement.” Many other research studies reach the same conclusions.
Having a clearly articulated curriculum makes us better teachers; it requires us to be intentional about how our goals, methodologies, and assessments lead to increased student achievement. The Curriculum Design and Review Process framework gives us the tools to evaluate how effective our curriculum actually is because it
- Provides a way for excellent veteran teachers to transfer expertise to new teachers within a portable structure.
- Provides a way for teachers to articulate what exactly we want students to learn in the classroom.
- Provides a way for teachers to evaluate how effective our course of study is, moving us beyond standardized test results to assess how well students are achieving the ESLRs & Grad at Grad.
- Allows for cross-curricular opportunities b/c teachers know what is going on in different classes.
- Promotes transparency.
- Encourages collaboration.
- Uses data to drive curricular decisions.
In addition, the theme of this year is “Understanding and Living our Mission.” CDRP provides a great way for us to look at our curricular goals and ensure that they are aligned with our mission, what we say we strive to accomplish with our students.
2. What exactly do I have to do?
Identify areas of strength and areas of growth in your shared written curriculum. We did this informally at the In-service. Is your initial impression correct? Meet at your course level and answer guided questions geared towards pointing out strengths and areas of growth in curriculum design. Consider specific evidence that will back-up your conclusions and take notes to reflect your conversation.
Then, levels should create an action plan to address the areas of growth. Areas of growth might be in any of the CDRP stages (Determine, Design, Implement, Evaluate, Renew).
That’s it. Working to address the areas of growth will be the work of the future, and levels will be able to determine the time line necessary to do just that. You are not expected to re-write your curriculum by March 30th.
3. What does a written curriculum for a given level/course consist of?
- Course description
- Course enduring understandings, essential questions, and performance tasks (based on Understanding by Design)
- Unit enduring understandings, essential questions, performance tasks, and assessments (based on Understanding by Design)
Note: Designing the written curriculum is only ONE phase of the CDRP framework.
4. Does that mean I have to teach the same as everyone else?
No – One of the key components of an effective written curriculum is the concept of CORE and BANK. It is up to the course level to determine what the appropriate CORE should be so that students in the same class taught by different teachers have a consistent learning experience. In addition, teaching methodologies will vary – we want to teach to our strengths and passions; the diversity among our faculty is one of our greatest gifts. The Implementation phase of CDRP does not ask that all teachers teach the same; instead it stresses collaboration and the sharing of expertise.
5. Why are we doing this now before a schedule change?
A written curriculum should not be dependent upon the schedule. It refers to the topics of study and the performance tasks that students will accomplish to show their learning. Implementation (Stage 3 on the CDRP framework and what we do every day in the classroom) will be impacted by the schedule we choose. However, best practices with regards to pedagogical methodologies should drive the schedule, not vice-versa. We should use this process to help us choose the best schedule.
6. Isn’t this WASC work? Why are we doing it now?
YES, this is WASC work. But, just as it is not effective to wait until the night before a paper/project is due to produce it, (what we tell our students, right?) we are doing the work of WASC in a graduated fashion. It is not effective to "get into gear" the year before WASC. Let's do the work as part of our natural routine so we will not be slammed at the last minute. Also, one of the WASC action items for us is to be more intentional about using data to inform decisions. The CDRP provides a means for us to gather data and use that to make informed decisions about curriculum.
7. Didn’t I just do this curriculum review when I conducted the AP audit?
The audit allowed us a chance to review our curriculum in light of AP standards. However, even though we have AP courses with a specific content, passing the AP exam should not necessarily be the only goal of the course. We are asking teachers to evaluate their curriculum in light of the professional standards (i.e., AP goals) but also our mission and Jesuit values. Ideally, what goes on in an AP course is consistent with what we want an Ignatian education to be. Also, the AP audit concentrated on content and goals. The CDRP framework also asks educators to assess the implementation of the curriculum (Step 3), evaluation of the curriculum (Step 4), and the future renewal of the curriculum (Step 5).
8. I teach at three or four levels. Do I have to work with my colleagues at each level?
No. Please work on two of your curricular levels. Check with your department chair about which would be the best levels for you to work on.
9. This will take time. What kind of release time will we have to do the work?
Although 5-to-4 is supposed to create release time for teachers to engage in collaboration, the reality of the situation is that everyone at the level does not have the same period off to work. In order to create time for this work, see if there is a period of the day during which most level members have off. The Academics Office can get a proctor for the 1-2 people at the level who do not share the prep period. Choose a day when students are taking a test or performing another activity that can be proctored and tell Carole a week in advance. In addition, our March in-service will provide a block of time for this task. Next year, time will be built into the schedule for teachers to work on action plan items.
10. I am somewhat unclear as to what some of the terminology means in the CDRP inventory. How can I get help?
Please do not hesitate to contact Carole, Paul, and /or your department chair with any questions. We can clarify at any point in the process.
11. Is there a place where I can access CDRP information?
Documents, background, handouts, and our colleagues’ presentations are all posted at the CDRP webpage. Check them out. We are working on establishing a blog so that teachers can post thoughts, questions, issues, complaints.