Various situations evolving in the school and classroom environment are often related to teachers’ and students’ efforts, intensions and actions aimed at achieving academic success and avoiding school dropout. Therefore, one of the basic instructional problems a teacher needs to address is to ensure efficient academic progress of students by means of implementing an adequate curriculum, instruction, evaluation and other teaching and learning technologies and policies.
Curriculum design and development have been key issues in discussing the teaching and learning process for decades. Major principles and requirements to the school curriculum formulated by R.W. Tyler (1969) are as relevant today as they were decades before, when the book was published for the first time. They include defining clearly and precisely educational purposes sought by schools, selecting learning experiences that will be useful in attaining intended objectives, organizing learning experiences for achieving efficient instruction, evaluating academic progress and learning experiences, and designing curriculum by school and college staff. Today, when both our world and school environment are becoming ever more dynamic, diverse, multicultural and controversial, these concepts remain relevant and are developed both theoretically and practically, for different real settings.
Designing an efficient curriculum starts with determining the subject area and constructing the core curriculum that meets basic learning needs of students and serves as the foundation for further steps in developing differentiated and individualized approaches to learning and teaching. The target of the core curriculum is in not to let children “fall off the cliffs”, that is to provide for their academic progress in the best possible way by addressing their similar features depending on age and other cognitive and behavioral characteristics and avoiding the need of dividing the class into too many small target groups for instructing in the core academic areas (Begeny, Schulte & Johnson, 2012, p.12). A comprehensive analysis of sub-skills that should be developed by the core curriculum is also a prerequisite for making the curriculum a powerful tool of enhancing students’ academic progress. Teachers and educators cannot afford to have “trivial and fluffy curriculum [that] remains trivial and fluffy even after differentiation” (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000, p. 12). Recent steps aimed at improving educational standards in general and methods of testing in particular, although they have given rise to heated discussions, provide the basis for a more integrative understanding of the role of the curriculum and its interconnection with other teaching activities. This is the way to improve both the curriculum, in terms of its content, structure and methods of implementation, and evaluation procedures that need to be integrated in the curriculum rather than function as a separate target inviting justified criticism because of excessive training to make students learn specific test formats or the resulting limitation of knowledge and skill areas that could be useful for students in the future.
The curriculum is a component of the teaching and learning process closely associated with certain other basic aspects, primarily evaluating the academic progress and students’ proficiency, developing students’ motivation, which is the instrumental for sustaining any learning …