In a recent EducationNext piece, Robert Pondiscio reviews the promising progress of a unique set of reforms in Louisiana—all focused on curriculum as a driver for improving instructional quality and student outcomes.
“There is a story and it’s about curriculum—perhaps the last, best, and almost entirely un-pulled education-reform lever.”
According to Pondiscio, most states have avoided pursuing curriculum reform, despite evidence that it’s a cost-effective method of improvement. A common challenge is that providing curriculum requirements or even just recommendations can lead to strong pushback from local communities. Still, Louisiana has found success with aligning curriculum, professional development, and assessment while still respecting local control.
Pondiscio’s piece highlights several key efforts in Louisiana, including:
- Two years after adopting the Common Core State Standards, the state reviewed curriculum materials in use by districts. Disappointing results led the state to develop its own ELA curriculum.
- The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) recruited teacher leaders across the state to rigorously review curriculum options and classify them into three tiers of quality.
- The LDOE avoids requiring districts to use any particular materials. Instead, the state offers incentives for choosing the highest-tier options.
- The state also provides carefully aligned professional development recommendations, ensuring that vendors can provide training specific to the highest-tier curriculum.
As Pondiscio explains, Louisiana’s reforms “offer a glimpse of how to thread the needle, honoring community control while encouraging high-quality curriculum statewide.”
Find the full piece here.