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Policy Considerations

Introduction

Defining curriculum and alignment paints a picture of the "what" of curriculum alignment. It does not, however, describe the "why" of curriculum alignment. Although one could make several conceptual arguments for why we should spend time, energy, and resources on curriculum alignment efforts, one of the most compelling arguments is based on several policy considerations.



Policy Considerations

No Child Left Behind

Alignment came to the forefront of policy with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2001, known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Briefly, the primary alignment requirements in NCLB focused on state accountability assessments needing to be aligned with state content standards. Overall, the term alignment appears of 100 times in NCLB legislation. 

Iowa Senate File 2216 (2008)

NCLB applies to Iowa as much as any other state. A policy unique to Iowa, however, has provided a more recent set of alignment requirements for districts to meet. Specifically, Senate File 2216 from the 2008 Iowa Congressional legislative session put into law the requirement for all districts to implement the previously optional Iowa Core. You can view the text of Senate File 2216 here and download the file here. More extensive treatments of the Iowa Core can be found here and here.

Iowa Core Implementation Plan Framework

The Iowa Department of Education (DE) was charged with spelling out the details of what implementation requirements would be set for districts that would define what "full implementation" means. The DE developed an implementation framework that consists of six outcomes. Outcome 4 is focused on alignment. Specifically, Outcome 4 is defined as follows: "District leaders and other educators monitor and use data to increase the degree of alignment of each and every student’s enacted curriculum and other relevant educational opportunities to the Iowa Core Curriculum (intended curriculum)." This outcome is broken down into three Targets and five Actions that detail the work required to realize the vision of Outcome 4.

Targets

What are we trying to accomplish?

Actions

What are we going to do to reach our targets?

4.a   District/School staff develops necessary alignment expertise.

4.a.1     Educators learn about alignment processes to implement the Iowa Core.

4.b   District/School staff prepares to implement alignment processes and tools.

4.b.1     Educators select the processes and tools that will be used locally (LEA).

4.b.2     Educators learn to use the selected processes and tools.

4.c   District/School staff implements alignment processes and tools.

4. c.1    Educators implement the alignment selected processes and tools.

4.c.2     Educators use alignment data to help make decisions regarding the alignment of the enacted to the intended curriculum.

Action 4.c.1 is of particular interest to most districts. In this action is detailed requirements that include teachers collecting data on what they actually teach, and how that relates to the Iowa Core, as well as observation of enacted curriculum and dialogue about what was observed. More detailed information about Outcome 4 requirements, as well as the requirements found in the other five outcome areas, can be found here

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