Effective Teaching in Curriculum Reform
What is the most important factor in curriculum reform movements? Is it standardized test scores or the qualification of being a good teacher? Nope. Although these factors are significant in promoting curriculum reform, however, they concentrate on either the higher students' academic performance or the more rigorous requirements of teachers. In order to successfully satisfy the needs of students, it is better for the policymakers to put themselves into students' shoes to measure the achievement of teaching by evaluating the students' passion and progress in the teaching process rather than only test scores or teacher evaluations. In brief, refining the current assessment system to measure the efficiency in teaching is the most important factor in curriculum reform movements.
When it comes to the topic of curriculum reform, most of us will readily agree that we need to improve the quality of our teachers or to develop better education standards (Alters, 2012). Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of how curriculum reform satisfies the students’ needs in learning. Whereas some are convinced to rely on standardized test scores to determine the efficiency in public education, Linda Darling-Hammond (2011), an American educator, maintains that these assessments do not benefit the students’ academic performance; and school education should focus on providing quality education to the children. Thus, the role of standardized test scores in curriculum reform has provoked a controversy discussion in Philadelphia.
Since 2002, curriculum reform called the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has gone into effect across the nation. According to NCLB, the students’ academic performance in the core courses reading, writing, mathematics, and science have been taken into high consideration in the reform (Alters, 2012). Specifically, Alters explains that this reform emphasized narrowing the gap among the students' academic performance by improving their standardized test scores. Also, this reform required all teachers in primary and secondary schools to hold at least bachelor's degrees and pass certification tests to show their competence in teaching.
In fact, standardized test scores of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) in Philadelphia had been successfully increasing steadily from 2002 to 2011, and its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) had been maintained at least 40% from 2004 to 2011 under NCLB; however, the test scores started to drop in 2012 and the percentage of AYP declined from 42% in 2011 to 13% (The PEW Charitable Trust, 2013). According to the School District of Philadelphia (2013a), the percentage of students in scoring proficient or advanced continued to drop from 44.8% to 42.3% in reading and 50.9% to 46.9% in mathematics in 2013. These data show that the students’ academic performance was significantly lagging behind the goal of the reform, as...