Is an externally designed curriculum the best way to represent your school’s mission in action? Or is there a way to more intentionally reflect your values and culture in your most advanced courses?
These were the guiding questions that led a loose organization of educators to begin a conversation about the ways externally imposed curricula and the related standardized testing were driving the pinnacle course of study in their schools.
Those intrepid leaders founded the non-profit Independent Curriculum Group, led first by Bruce Hammond, then by Peter Gow as executive directors. The ICG Principles of Independent Curriculum became a call to action for schools seeking to design and implement high quality, mission-based, teacher-created curriculum and assessments.
In 2019, the Independent Curriculum Group merged with One Schoolhouse. One Schoolhouse’s active relationships with schools and innovative pedagogy provided natural pathways for helping schools move from principles to practice. The two organizations began planning to release the next iteration of the principles in a format that provided a road map for academic leaders.
Before that could happen, the rapid school shutdowns of spring 2020 led One Schoolhouse to ask, “How can we help?” Drawing on ICG principles, One Schoolhouse quickly released a set of standards intended to guide schools through the next months: our “Course Standards and Teacher Competencies for Hybrid Course Design, Development, and Delivery.” Little did we realize at the time of writing that these editable standards would become foundational guides for hundreds of schools in the 2020–21 school year. Now, as we begin 2021, we’re returning to focus on the ideas that inspired the ICG–One Schoolhouse merger.
Today, we’re excited to release a set of clear standards for the design and delivery of advanced-level courses--standards that expand the original Principles of Independent Curriculum while remaining firmly rooted in the practical experiences of two organizations, now united, as we move forward to help schools transform education.
We created these standards to support, rather than dominate, the work of each teacher in each school, and to invite teachers to build advanced-level courses whose content and structure acknowledge and honor the students in their own classrooms.
The Standards for Advanced Independent Curriculum that we are presenting describe and provide guidance for the development of learning programs that:
We present these standards in the hope that they will, by reflecting the deeply held beliefs and proven effective practices of schools and educators, invigorate the work of teachers and inspire students.
As Peter suggests in a recent One Schoolhouse blog post, standards like these are long overdue. To read "Where Have You Been All My Life? Standards That Can Work For Schools & Kids," click here.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)