College Board Report Praises Curriculum Frameworks

October 14, 2002
A College Board review of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) curriculum frameworks and blueprints for Grades 4-8 has determined that they provide rigorous standards and a sound foundation to prepare students for success in challenging course work.

The College Board was asked last November to review and evaluate curriculum frameworks and blueprints for Grades 6-8 English/language arts, Grades 4-8 mathematics and Grades 4-8 social studies.

“The curriculum revision process in MCPS represents the school system’s commitment to ensuring that all students experience a challenging curriculum that prepares them for rigorous postsecondary study and careers,” Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said in a report to the Board of Education. The Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs (OCIP) has sought external review of the curriculum from several sources.

The College Board review was solicited to determine if the curriculum documents set high academic standards to prepare all students for success in rigorous secondary programs, including Advanced Placement (AP). Reviewers said that the frameworks and blueprints are effectively backmapped from AP courses and provide rigorous standards.

In particular, the reviewers noted that the MCPS curriculum documents:

§ Are comprehensive, well-balanced and accessible.
§ Include the skills necessary for success in AP courses.
§ Allow for innovative teaching opportunities.
§ Pay attention to the requirements of state standards.
§ Are enriched by engaging and challenging content.

Nine College Board consultants reviewed, analyzed and critiqued these early versions of the curriculum frameworks. Although the reviews differed in content and structure, each reviewer included positive comments as well as suggestions to strengthen the documents. The College Board reviewers noted the strong alignment of skills and content that represents the backmapping from AP Calculus and AP English. They applauded MCPS for developing a social studies framework that echoes national standards. The reviewers found clear evidence of a continuum of skill development and content knowledge. They also suggested ways to add even more rigor through the use of specific strategies, resources and assessments.

OCIP program supervisors and instructional specialists have analyzed the reviews, evaluated the suggestions and will incorporate them as appropriate. Many of the College Board suggestions already had been incorporated, following stakeholder feedback, before College Board reviews were submitted. Reviewers’ suggestions for adding even more rigor to the curriculum documents are consistent with input received from other stakeholder groups.

The first external curriculum review, the math audit by Phi Delta Kappa in fall 2000, provided the impetus for the curriculum revision currently under way. As part of the MCPS joint venture with Achieve, Inc. and the State of Maryland, Achieve, Inc. is currently reviewing the MCPS curriculum frameworks, countywide final exams and formative assessments to ensure that they are aligned and in support of the Maryland State Department of Education standards, as well as other exemplary state and national standards.

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