Curriculum & Instruction

Do states' current English/language arts and reading standards expect what they should? Are they demanding enough? Clear enough? Are states using them to guide not only the curriculum and assessment system for students but also their teacher-training programs? Sandra Stotsky, research scholar at Northeastern University and former senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education, finds that most states have revised or replaced their standards since 2000 and made some improvements, especially to K-8 standards. However, major shortcomings remain in other areas including high school literature requirements.

How did New York City's experiment in school reform, once so promising, become such a mess? Author Sol Stern explains in this third edition of Fordham's new Fwd: series of short articles of interest to K-12 education reformers.

Statewide textbook adoption, the process by which 21 states dictate the textbooks that schools and districts can use, is fundamentally flawed. Textbook adoption distorts the market, entices extremist groups to hijack the curriculum, enriches the textbook cartel, and papers the land with mediocre instructional materials that cannot fulfill their important education mission. The adoption process cannot be set right by tinkering with it, concludes The Mad, Mad World of Textbook Adoption, the latest release from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Rather, legislators and governors in adoption states should eliminate the process and devolve funding for and decisions about textbook purchases to individual schools, individual districts, even individual teachers.
 
The Mad, Mad World of Textbook Adoption is the first of a new Fordham Institute series, "Compact Guides to Education Solutions," that provides practical solutions to K-12 education problems for policy makers, legislators, school leaders, and activists. These concise guides are meant to help drive reforms at the local, state, and national levels by offering actionable policy recommendations.

Widely used supplemental materials may be dangerous to educational health! These works often include hefty doses of political manipulation and ideological bias, courtesy of their authors. This study casts a wary glance toward materials that seldom come under scrutiny. This study is the fifth in a series dedicated to reforming social studies education.

A Consumer's Guide to High School History Textbooks is a summary review of 12 widely used U.S. and world history textbooks.

Co-published by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and AccountabilityWorks, with support from the Smith Richardson Foundation, this report looks at six elements of K-12 accountability systems in 30 different states. Each state is rated on standards, test content, alignment of tests to standards, test rigor, testing trustworthiness and openness, and accountability policies. The major conclusion: while some states have the basis of a sophisticated and rigorous accountability system in place, no state has every element of a serious standards-based education reform package in place. And few states are as open to evaluation as they ought to be.

Is there any subject as disheveled, distorted and dysfunctional as social studies? As part of our continuing effort to revitalize the subject of social studies, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute offers Effective State Standards for U.S. History: A 2003 Report Card. This groundbreaking and comprehensive state-by-state analysis of K-12 education standards in U.S. history was prepared by Sheldon Stern, historian at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston for more than 20 years. It evaluates U.S. history standards in 48 states and the District of Columbia on comprehensive historical content, sequential development, and balance.

This new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation includes the voices of 29 political leaders, education practitioners, and cultural analysts who discuss what schools should teach about U.S. history, American ideals, and American civic life in the wake of 9/11, the war on terror, and the liberation of Iraq.

This new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation consists of penetrating critiques by renegade social studies educators who fault the regnant teaching methods and curricular ideas of their field and suggest how it can be reformed. While nearly everyone recognizes that American students don't know much about history and civics, these analysts probe the causes of this ignorance-and lay primary responsibility at the feet of the social studies "establishment" to which they belong.

Geography plays a crucial role in shaping history, and the study of history provides an important context for students learning geography, but teachers rarely take advantage of the complementary nature of these subjects. This report shows how the study of U.S. history can be enriched by blending geography into the curriculum. The centerpiece is an innovative curriculum framework in which each historical period is supplemented and enriched by the introduction of relevant geography

Pages