CURRICULUM GAP CONUNDRUM
The other day I overheard a teacher say something along the lines that teachers shouldn’t worry about not covering all the objectives set out in the curriculum as she had been told by a superior that there were simply too many to cover in a year and not to worry about it; they would get touched upon another year. This completely blew my mind. My first instinct was to empathize with the teacher; I get the relief of being told not to worry if you run out of time, you did your best, all will work itself out in the end. But then I started playing this out in my head – if every single educator was doing the same thing, cutting parts of the curriculum out and crossing their fingers that it would get covered another year … well, things could go very wrong.
Firstly, if we are going to give teachers a free pass, there should be some sort of assurance that the missing objectives will be covered another year. At my daughter’s school district, I am almost certain this isn’t the case, so it could very well be that as she moves through her learning journey, there will be concepts that are missed simply because there doesn’t appear to be much accountability. At this point in time, there really isn’t any way to ensure that concepts missed one year are taught the next because there isn’t a formal handover where one teacher lets the next year’s teacher know what they weren’t able to cover, and there’s no tracking system in place.
The second issue is that there is no way to ensure that two classes of the same grade are covering the same concepts. And so, if one class moves faster and is able to cover more objectives and/or the two teachers choose different areas of the curriculum to skip over, then when the students are regrouped the following year, you end up with a mix of students in the next grade level classes with differing gaps. This makes it difficult for the new teachers to figure out a game plan to make sure that not only do they hit their grade level objectives, but also account for and fill in learning gaps that may exist.
If we follow this train of thought and imagine year upon year of missed objectives, not knowing what hasn’t been covered when, and assuming that teachers are choosing different areas of the curriculum to omit, (when that might not be the case and the same areas are being chosen) then what does this mean for students? It means that while the majority of the curriculum content will be covered, gaps will exist that may not necessarily be filled and their impact will be difficult to gauge.
The solution? I believe there are two choices: if the curriculum is in fact overloaded and deemed impossible to complete in a year, perhaps the B.C. government should consider paring it down to the essentials to make sure students are on an even footing, and the second choice would be to improve teacher accountability. If the government does feel that what it has set out is reasonable, then there needs to be some form of tracking in place to make sure it all gets covered at some point during each student’s learning journey.
As a teacher, what are your thoughts on the topic? What gaps, if any, have you witnessed due to the curriculums not being fully covered in a year? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
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