3: Successfully Implementing a New Curriculum
have already selected one of these programs to implement. What
additional help is available?
Once you have narrowed your focus to one or more of the curricula
associated with COMPASS, it is vital
to recognize that there are many issues that surround the successful
switch from a traditional curriculum to one of the new curricula,
including new content, new pedagogy, new assessment strategies,
and significant use of technology. The choice of instructional
materials is only the beginning. If you have not already done
so, view the Questions for
Discussion page at this site for a more detailed indication
of some of the issues involved. Such a switch in curriculum amounts
to systemic change and will be a paradigm shift for many involved
in or affected by the change. Even if your present curriculum
is not traditional, many of the implementation issues raised below
may apply to your situation. In order to accomplish successful
implementation, we strongly suggest that you develop an implementation
plan. We will be happy to help you with
the initial phases of planning outlined below with regard to implementation
of one or more of the NSF-funded curricula.
In brief and broad outline, your plan should be based on a study
of the change process within your region. At the outset, implementation
of these curricular materials requires informed choice and confidence
that they meet or could be adapted to meet state and local frameworks,
that they articulate well with middle and elementary school curricula
adopted by your school or district, and that technology needs
can be met (see Step 1 and Step
2 on the "Choosing a Curriculum"
page). Experience indicates that it is important for you to educate
all those concerned about the need, scope, and meaning of change.
People who need to be educated and convinced include a critical
mass of teachers, client teachers (such as science teachers),
building and/or district administrators, the school board, parents/caregivers,
local and state government officials, community members, higher
education officials, and, not least of all, students. It is important
to determine where you will have support, where you can build
support, and where you will encounter significant resistance.
We recommend that you develop a plan that phases
in the curriculum and offers strong
professional development. Indeed, we see these as
vital components of successful implementation. Our satellite sites
can offer suggestions and opportunities with regard to professional
development which is curriculum specific.
There needs to be on-going confidence and assurance to the local
community that such change in content and pedagogy is benefiting
its students, which is one reason why we suggest that you phase
in the new curriculum. You should periodically evaluate progress
and keep your key constituencies informed of results. Evaluation
can include general data that has been compiled from other sites.
It can also include a comparison of high stakes assessment data,
college acceptance information, and local testing results. For
some such data, follow links at this site first to Curriculum
Details, then to a particular curriculum, and then to evaluation
data for that curriculum. Other data can be collected as you implement.
It should be kept in mind that one of the most convincing methods
for informing people is to have them actually visit classes. You
may wish to contact individuals at particular curricula to find
a nearby school, if possible, that is using the curriculum you
As mentioned above, the COMPASS center can assist you with the
broad implementation issues. In addition, we can help put you
in touch with people at our satellite sites who can answer more
precise questions concerning the materials and successful implementation
of particular materials. Our Calendar
page should also be of interest, as it contains information on
awareness workshops, professional development opportunities, and
other presentations of interest connected with the COMPASS project.
We also recommend that reform should not be restricted to the
high school level. There are significant advantages for comprehensive
K-12 reform of mathematics education. Such reform raises its own
set of issues with respect to articulation between school levels
and compatibility between approaches. COMPASS and other implementation
centers exist to help you with these issues. See the Other
Links page at this site for more information on who to contact
regarding other levels of schooling.
The preceding brief discussion is not a substitute for direct
contact with COMPASS staff. We have raised some of the major issues
here, but not all of them. An implementation plan should be tailored
to your specific situation. All of us who are involved with COMPASS
are firmly committed to assisting you. Please contact us directly
for further information via e-mail, surface
mail, or phone.
Is it worth it? Absolutely!! We must
keep in mind what is at stake! When implementation is done right,
all students will have a better mathematical experience than they
have ever had.