School System Plans Update to Elementary Curriculum

Montgomery County Public Schools will look outside its staff this year for a new curriculum for its elementary schools, a county administrator said Monday.

In recent years, the school system had used its own staff to develop the lessons taught in its own classrooms.

MCPS officials will ask publishers to submit proposals for a new curriculum. In May, teams of teachers and administrators will help consider the options, and in June, they will present their findings to the Board of Education, said Erick Lang, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

“We’ll be looking at a whole range of different curricula, and we’re going to look for what works best for Montgomery County,” Lang said.

Part of the reason for the curriculum update is simple: Times change.

“It’s important we change with it,” Lang said.

Technology, for example, has changed the way students receive lessons. Some instruction could be pushed out through Chromebooks, he said. Some publishers have experimented with gaming as a way to get a lesson across.

If a child struggled with a concept, the new curriculum would offer resources at teachers’ fingertips. Or if a child had mastered a concept early, the curriculum would supply acceleration or enrichment ideas, he said.

The curriculum also would offer ways to tie in special education and English as a second language, Lang said.

Curriculum also includes professional learning, which could mean webinars, videos and online courses, he said.

Although the school board will have the final proposals in June, the rollout of the new curriculum could take a few years, Lang said. The first year would be just a few schools, then more in the second and third years, he said.

The pilot MCPS is considering would put a section — maybe literacy, as an example — for a single school’s kindergarten through fifth grade classes. All grades at the school would get something, he said.

The school system reviews its curriculum about every five years, he said. This time ’round, Johns Hopkins University performed the review.

Because MCPS previously used its own staff to review curriculum, having an outside review means teachers don’t need to be diverted from the classroom to perform the job, Lang said. That fits in with School Superintendent Jack Smith’s goal of keeping more teachers teaching.

“As we look at central office supports and the overall interest in the budget, you’ll often hear him say he wants to keep resources in the classroom,” Lang said. “There’s a long term interest in keeping as many people in schools as possible.”

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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