What is a curriculum?
As New York Academy moves forward with our ongoing school improvement efforts and the continuous improvement our curriculum, it is critically important that we are on the same page as to what is a curriculum. We might assume it is obvious, but do we really use a common language with shared understandings?
The term curriculum generally refers to the academic content and lessons taught in a school or in a specific course or program.
However, curriculum is an “umbrella” term, which includes:
- The knowledge, concepts, and skills students are expected to learn, including the learning standards or learning objectives they are expected to meet.
- The research-evidence best practice methods of instruction used to teach.
- The units and lessons that teachers develop for instruction.
- The assignments and projects given to students.
- The books and learning resources.
- The assessments and methods used to evaluate learning.
Annually, NYA reviews its curriculum in all areas for ongoing improvement.
We have adopted a set of standards and benchmarks with high academic expectations; the AERO (American Education Reaches Out/Common Core Plus) Standards are used by many progressive international/American Schools around the world.
Standards and benchmarks explicitly state what a student should “know, understand, and be able to do” for the content areas (reading, writing, math, science, social studies, technology, art, music, P.E. etc.) at each grade level.
The AERO Standards were developed by U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas Schools and the Overseas Schools Advisory Council to assist schools in developing and implementing standards-based curriculum. The AERO Standards provide a framework for curriculum with high expectations across grades K-12. The AERO Standards are in alignment with research-based evidence in the development of curriculum worldwide, and particularly with the Common Core initiative in the U.S.
However, The AERO Standards are more explicit and user-friendly than the Common Core and many other published standards.
Beyond academic standards, there are very important points about curriculum to keep in mind:
- Standards and benchmarks make clear expectations for student learning.
- Published programs, such as Singapore Math for example, which is our current primary math curriculum resource, are key instructional resources, but not our complete curriculum.
- Multiple instructional strategies and resources are used to achieve the curriculum standards and benchmarks.
- Formative assessments are used to determine the individual needs of each student per the standards and benchmarks.
- Teachers, through collaboration and sharing of best practice, are empowered to make professional judgements on strategies and resources to grow our students’ academic achievement.
We will keep you updated with our efforts and accomplishments as we work to strengthen our curriculum for NYA.
A copy of the AERO standards is available to parents upon request.