Education makes the pillar of the modern society. Development in any society is premised on an effective education system (Wilson, Marten & Poonam, 2005). An effective education system is one that caters for diverse needs that student and instructors have. There are several advantages associated with an effective education system. One of the advantages of an effective education system is that it produces quality graduates. Quality graduates are absorbed into the workforce and thus become part of a country’s human resource. This ensures progressive economic and political development. In addition, a comprehensive education system accommodates all student needs. This includes special needs for blind, deaf and dumb students. This challenge can be resolved by creating education programs that suit these needs.
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There is a variety of programs and curriculums that have been developed in order enhance students learning abilities. These programs include scripted reading programs and standards based curriculums. Scripted reading programs encompass scripted teaching where a teacher uses a set of commercial programs in his or her lesson (Shannon, 1983). These programs contain instructions that guide the teacher through the lesson and thus he or she cannot make any adjustments. Standards based curriculum, on the other hand, encompass establishment of achievement standards to which an individual’s student performance is compared and analyzed (Fang, Fu & Lemme, 2004). The following paper explores the benefits and shortcomings of the above programs and curriculum.
Scripted reading programs are mainly used in subjects such as Mathematics, Sciences and Basic English skills lessons (Ryder, Sekulski & Silberg, 2003). Education psychologist Robert Slavin designed the first scripted reading program. His main objective was to avail quality teaching techniques and materials to children from poor neighborhoods. His program “Success for all” was taken up by many schools in the face of deteriorating performance among students (Datnow & Castellano, 2000). This program has several advantages and disadvantages as discussed below.
One advantage of scripted reading programs is consistency. Consistency implies that the reading programs used in different schools are all the same. This has introduced some element of consistency since students are exposed and evaluated under similar programs. This way, students from poor neighborhoods where the student transfer rate is 50% are able to settle in their new institutions more comfortably (Bond& Dykstra, 1967). Therefore, the academic performance of such students is not adversely affected by the move and thus has higher chances of joining high school.
Another advantage of scripted reading programs is that they allow replication of successful teaching techniques, materials and strategies in different places. The “Success for all” program has been adopted by various schools across the country. For example, Centennial Elementary School in Mt Vermon, Washington, adopted the program in 1999. The institution experienced drastic improvement in student performance. In 1997, only 47.5% of the students in Centennial Elementary School met reading standards as compared to 74% in 2004 (Purcell-Gates, 2000). The program has been introduced in many other schools across the country where there has been improvement in student performance.
Scripted reading programs are comprehensive. This is because scripted reading programs are designed to cover all necessary skills required for any subject. This is a departure from traditional teaching methods where, teachers may not be in a position to comprehensively cover the details of a specific topic. This can be caused by time constraints or general forgetfulness. To counter such problems, scripted reading programs contain instructions that guide the teacher and thus ensure all content is covered in time.
Scripted programs allow for easy evaluation and follow up. This is because the programs contain a specific set of instructions, which provide a good basis for evaluation. Most program developers also ensure that the programs contain self-evaluation tests for the students. From the results of such tests, teachers and supervisors alike can evaluate student performance. Subsequently they can comprehensively analyze the effectiveness of the scripted reading programs.
Scripted reading programs have several disadvantages. One disadvantage of the scripted reading programs is that teachers’ creativity is curtailed by the instructions on the program. Learning is an interactive process and thus builds on the teacher-student relationship (Rice, 2006). A healthy (teacher-student relationship is highly productive and can have a very big impact on students’ performance. However, a teacher has to follow the instructions and strategies as outlined by the program. This limits among other things the creativity of both the teacher and student around a specific issue. An increased number of teachers however, make adaptations on the way they use this particular programs.
Another disadvantage is that scripted reading programs limit professional development amongst teachers. Professional development is an essential part of any career. Teacher, for example, handle a variety of issues often arising from the interaction with their students. Therefore, when a teacher successfully assists a student through either a personal or academic problem, he or she feels competent enough to handle such a situation in the future. This can be an important addition to the teacher’s resume where he or she develops a program that assists students negotiate through crtain academic and personal problems. Use scripted reading programs limits this interaction and thus teacher may not be in a position to notice certain aspects regarding his or her students. Usually, the teacher is preoccupied with the requirements of the reading programs.
In most cases, teachers continue using the programs in spite of the fact that some of the scripted reading programs may not be very effective. This is usually out of the administration’s insistence while not evaluating the effectiveness of the program. Therefore, teachers implement the program without much zeal and thus it reflects in the deteriorating performance amongst students. Finally, a single program cannot comprehensively cover the needs of all students. Usually, students’ needs vary due to various underlying factors including economic and social factors. Therefore, there is a need for an administration to look into combining several programs. This can be a costly venture as the administration incurs implementation expenses. The outcome of the programs may not be immediate since both the teachers and the students need time to adapt to the new learning methods. In cases where the administration grows impatient, it can scuttle the program causing frustration amongst students and staff alike.
A curriculum refers to a work plan that defines various tasks of teachers and administrators. It is a guideline that educators use that has established goals for specific materials taught. A curriculum has several objectives, which include defining what tasks need to be carried out. This is important as it defines specific tasks for educators and thus ensures that there is no task replication. In addition, a curriculum is an important tool of coordination. It defines the existing relationships between various tasks. Therefore, educators are able to complement each other’s efforts and thus improve the student’s general welfare. A curriculum has measurement standards on which both student and staff performance is evaluated. Work results are compared to work performed and an evaluation is thereby carried out.
Curriculum alignment theory is an important basis on which most curriculums are based. The theory focuses on the relationship between tested, taught and written curriculums. In order to ensure the student’s success, all the above have to be well coordinated. The main tool of measurement in the above curriculums is state exam on which Standards Based Curriculums are based.
Standards Based Curriculum is a system where student are rated on a series of standardized that are subjected to similar grading (Tiynan & Hemphill, 2005). The standards outline the requirements for the student that is what should know and are able to do. In the United States, standard based curriculum was introduced were introduced in 1989. This was after the publication “A Nation at Risk” established some major “cracks” in the then education system. An education summit organized by President George H.W.Bush, which included fifty governors, came up with the national education goals for the year 2000.In 1994; the Clinton administration adopted a vision that encouraged standards based curricula. It required all states to put in place standards for different grade levels and subjects.
Standards based curriculum is composed of several important aspects. One of these aspects is a criterion-referenced test. Criterion reference tests are designed by teachers to evaluate the comprehension of a specific subject. This gives the teacher ample time to help the students in their weak areas thus preparing them for state or national test. Another important element is to use standardized tests in assessing students in specific subject and grade level. This ensured that there is no class or racial discrimination and students are exposed to the same tests and graded equally.
Standards based curriculum has several advantages. One advantage of a standard based curriculum is that state run tests for example, can show areas of weakness in the performance of students in a certain subject or level. This information could be helpful to the state government, teachers and students alike. The state government can use such analysis to implement programs and policies aimed at improving performance in weak areas. Teachers on the other hand can use such information to review their teaching techniques and strategies. They, therefore, come up with strategies that are relevant and thus ensure that their students are adequately prepared for state test.
Another advantage of standards based curriculum is that teachers have increased independence or autonomy. Teachers are guided by the syllabuses produced by the examination bodies. It is upon the teachers to establish an appropriate mode of instructional delivery. This builds a good student-teacher relationship where a teacher is able to attend to unique needs of his or her students. Additionally, teachers and students alike are able to use their personal creativity while tackling various topics. This may lead groundbreaking inventions and innovations. This is in great contrast to scripted reading programs where most programs contain specific instructions thus limiting the teachers’ and student’s independence.
In standards based curriculum, all students are subjected to similar tests and subsequently similar grading (Phillip, 1998). This is advantageous to bright students from poor neighborhoods’. This is because such students are able to access such facilities such as academic scholarships and thus are able to advance their education. In addition, standardized tests are used for estimation of the grade point average (GPA) which is an important aspect of university admission. Students are aware of the grades they have to achieve in order to pursue a course in the future.
However, standards based curriculum has several disadvantages. One distinct disadvantage is the cost of administration and running the curriculum. Standards based curriculum involves several stakeholders whose efforts must be coordinated in order to make the curriculum successful. The curriculum involves the development of a syllabus that acts as a guide to the teachers and students. Furthermore, there are costs incurred while printing and distributing examination materials. Therefore, standards based curriculum can be very costly to the taxpayer.
Some institutions may not be as keen when implementing some of the requirements of the curriculum. Syllabuses constantly change due to the evolving nature of the society. Some institutions do not keep up with the pace and thus put students at a disadvantage. Some schools, also, may lack important student utilities. This compromises the quality of learning at the institution. Therefore, the student’s performance in test such as SAT’s and ACT’s remains decimal. Another problem associated with standards based assessment is the risk of vague and unclear standards. Curriculum development is a responsibility of concerned authorities in each state. Some of standards established may not be clear and thus result in ambiguity of results from standardized testing.
The development of a curriculum in a state should involve all the relevant stakeholders. However, in most cases, policies are developed and enacted by the federal government. This policies may not be cater for the all the needs of student in different localities within the state. Therefore, this can lead to decimal performance in tests by students from a particular area. Where the issue is not fully explored, it can lead to serious societal problems such as increased school dropout rate.
From the above analysis, there are notable differences between script reading programs and standards based curriculum. One of differences between the two is that script-reading programs are used across the country. Standard based curriculums are mainly developed at the federal level. Therefore, while students moving from one state to another might be familiar with script reading programs, the requirements of the curriculum in the new state may be different. Another difference is the standard testing. Most scripted reading programs have tests that are unique to different developers. This is in sharp contrast with standards based curriculum where standardized tests are administered for different levels and subjects. Students take the tests and a similar grading system is used on all students taking the test.
Standards based curriculum policies are usually compulsory and thus institutions are required to observe all the guidelines as provided in the policy document. Therefore, all institutions are required to meet all the requirements on student and staff welfare. Scripted reading programs, on the other hand, must be approved by administrators, for them to be adopted by individual institutions. Teachers thereby use them during their lessons and have to follow the instructions as given by the developer. Therefore, scripted reading programs are not a requirement by any authority. One distinct similarity, however, is the both scripted reading programs and standards based curriculums are important tools in education. The students can combine them successfully to ensure that maximum comprehension is achieved.
Development in any society is premised on a good education system. Knowledge can be transferred through several techniques. These include scripted reading programs and standards based curriculum. As outlined above, both of these education techniques have their own advantages and disadvantages. In order to improve the effectiveness of scripted reading programs, teachers should be given more independence while using the programs. This shall ensure that the teacher is able to comment on different issues on the program and thus add the much-needed personal touch to the learning. In addition, both teachers and students accept it important for any administration to ensure that any scripted reading program is implemented. This increases the effectiveness of the programs, as both teachers are motivated towards using these programs. Scripted reading programs developers should ensure that they accommodate the needs of the entire user’s of the program. Some programs do not take into account the needs of all stakeholders especially teachers. Therefore, developers should ensure that deliver comprehensive programs for both teachers and students.
Standards based curriculums, on the other hand, should have clear-cut policies on various issues on education .That way, there will be no ambiguous issue and thus improve the implementation and effectiveness of the curriculum. In order to run a successful curriculum program, the federal government should ensure implemented policies are followed up. This shall curb laxity among school administrations in implementing requirements as outlined in the policies. It is also important to involve all stakeholders when designing such policies. Stakeholders from the local level through to district level should be involved in the process. They represent diverse needs of their communities and therefore such needs are encompassed in the policies.
Neither scripted reading programs nor standard based curriculums can fully cater for all student needs. Therefore, there is a need for coordination between various programs in order to ensure maximum output and student success. It is therefore imperative that education policies incorporate various programs into the curriculum.
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