03 SES 09 B, Underpinnings of Curriculum Change
The aim of this paper is to analyse the extent to which the IB DP written curriculum aligns with national standards in Germany and Switzerland with regard to content, cognitive demand and philosophical underpinnings; and to explore how the intended non‐scholastic attributes, if any, of international mindedness, civic‐mindedness, citizenship, engagement, and motivation compare among IB DP, German and Swiss curriculum documentation. This is important to ensure similar university access pathways for both IB DP students and students coming through the mainstream state schools in Germany and Switzerland.
The need for alignment became fundamental in the context of education. The concept of alignment can be described as the degree to which the different elements of an education system interact functionally and effectively to achieve successful student learning. The elements of an education system are, for instance: standards, curricula, assessments, and instructions (Ananda 2003; Resnick, Rothman, Slattery, and Vranek 2003; Webb 1997). Alignment studies usually analyze the extent to which standards and assessment address the same content (Webb 1997; Webb 1999). By introducing his work on the enacted curriculum, Porter added the curriculum as an additional component of alignment research (Porter 2002, 2005). Although a variation of slightly different criteria for alignment of standards and assessment is suggested by different researchers, there is general agreement on the most fundamental requirements for alignment. These basic stipulations are content match and depth match (LaMarca, 2001; Ananda 2003). Content match describes the extent to which test content corresponds to targeted standards. Depth match examines whether test items reflect the cognitive complexity of the knowledge and skills defined in the standards. Alignment studies are a useful source of information and can fulfill a number of different purposes: (a) identifying gaps and possible shortcomings, (b) inform whether restructuring of the existing assessment or accountability system is advisable, (c) comparing own standards to others, (d) providing information for the development of new assessment items, (e) analyzing content validity (Ananda 2003). Accountability plays an increasingly important role in education and drew the attention of education policymakers and researchers to the relevance of alignment. Thus, concepts of alignment have become multi-dimensional and advanced to support the education systems and maintain high quality standards. Mostly applied to curricula analysis within a country, alignment research is particularly informative in international comparisons as it provides insights into the learning preferences of different educational systems.
There are different methodologies for investigating alignment (Bloom, Madaus, Hastings 1981; Tyler 1949; Webb 1999). As this field of research is currently still emerging, alignment studies in the past were often confronted with the criticism of being too subjective and even to a certain degree arbitrary. The research field developed immensely in recent years and meanwhile applies more advanced, in-depth methods of alignment between standards, assessments, and instruction. The process became increasingly refined, asserting that assessments also include the depth and breadth of content standards for a given grade level. The current assessment process usually entails both, a systematic review of the standards and a systematic review of assessment items and tasks. Hence, methodologically sound alignment studies evaluate the content match between each item and standard and additionally provide a qualitative analysis of alignment. There are several established methodologies for systematically evaluating and documenting the alignment of educational standards, the most frequently used alignment models are the Webb Model, the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum (SEC) Model, and the Achieve Model (La Marca, Redfield and, Winter 2000).
Ananda, Sri (2003) ‘Rethinking issues of alignment under “No Child Left Behind”’, San Francisco: WestEd, http://www.wested.org/online_pubs/kn-03-01.pdf Bloom, Benjamin S., Madaus, George F., and Hastings, J. Thomas (1981) Evaluation to Improve Learning, New York: McGraw-Hill. Dworkin, Martin (1959) Dewey on Education: Selections, New York: Teachers College Press. Faas, Daniel (2011) ‘The Nation, Europe, and Migration: A comparison of geography, history, and citizenship education curricula in Greece, Germany, and England’, Journal of Curriculum Studies 43(4): 471-492. Impara, James C. (2001) ‘Alignment: One element of an assessment’s instructional unity’, Paper presented at the 2001 annual meeting of the National Council on Measurement in Education, Seattle, WA. La Marca, Paul M., Redfield, Doris and Winter, Phoebe C., (2000) State standards and state assessment systems: A guide to alignment, Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers. Porter, Andrew C. (2002) ‘Measuring the content of instruction: Uses in research and practice. Educational Researcher’, Educational Researcher 31(7): 3–14. Porter, Andrew C. (2005) ‘Curriculum Assessment’, in: J. L. Green, G. Camilli, and P. B. Elmore (eds.) Complementary Methods for Research in Education (3rd edition). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association. Porter, Andrew C., Smithson, John, Blank, Rolf and Zeidner, Timothy (2007) ‘Allignment as a teacher variable’, Applied Measurement in Education 20(1): 25-51. Resnick, Lauren B., Rothman Robert, Slattery, Jean B., and Vranek, Jennifer L. (2003): “Benchmarking and alignment of standards and testing’, Educational Assessment 9(1/2): 1–27. Tyler, Ralph W. (1949) Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction, Chicago: University of Chicago. Webb, Norman L. (1997) ‘Determining alignment of expectations and assessments in mathematics and science education’, NISE Brief 1(2), http://facstaff.wcer.wisc.edu/normw/1997alignmentbrief.htm Webb, Norman L. (1999) Alignment of Science and Mathematics Standards and Assessments in Four States, Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.
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