The School Principal – Curriculum Criteria
for Status and Control

Have you had the opportunity to check your curriculum status against a set of reasonable criteria to know its viability? Well, here is a set of criteria which most would find acceptable.

  • An effective curriculum is systemic in structure to support the arc of student learning both  vertically and horizontally. It is built from end-points backwards to be served upwards. In a computerized system it functions quickly with easy access and application.
  • A subject or course overview focuses on its intent. This may be accomplished within a Paragraph hits key areas of intent for the subject or course of study.
  • Instructional units are the key blocks of instruction which state the topics to be learned with estimated timelines which do not exceed 32 weeks. Most effective units are set for two to four weeks in length. If a topical area is large, chunk it out.
  • Each unit is standards-based and identifies specific academic standards and others addressed within the unit.
  • Instructional units are sequenced and described from the student’s point of performance to capture major elements of learning, related content knowledge, and skills to be acquired. In viewing a curriculum for a subject or course from this stage, it reflects a year-at-a-glance (YAG) which serves as a mapping device.
  • Unit related content is listed in the order in which it is used which allows teachers at previous and subsequent grades to know what it is and support it where applicable.
  • Unit objectives establish the basis for learning activities as they relate to the unit description.
  • Unit enrichments are included in the event there is time and purpose for their implementation.
  • Unit assessments are based on the objectives and reflect the current nature of State testing formats and rubrics.
  • There is a process for timely curriculum revision and/or modification, particularly from formative observation/testing, local and State testing results.

Aside from the safety of student and staff, a curriculum is absolutely essential to keep learning on track in a systemic manner to ensure equity and excellence. While countless other factors affect education, the time needed to keep a curriculum current and effective cannot be over-stated.

Dr. Bruce H. Crowder is a senior researcher for Educational Vistas, Inc. His work is primarily focused on creating pathways for deeper learning for all students through student performance and a dynamic curriculum replete with strategic teaching. Dr. Crowder may be reached at