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Step 3: Successfully Implementing a New Curriculum

We 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 have chosen.

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.

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Last Revision: 04/26/06