CHAPTER 12Curriculum EvaluationEvaluation has a long history. As Guba and Lincoln (1981) pointed out, a Chineseemperor in 2200 b.c. required that his public officials demonstrate their proficiency informal competency tests. In the United States, the concern for evaluating schools can betraced at least as far back as the recommendations of the Committee of Ten, which at theend of the 19th century set perhaps the first example of “evaluative standards” for thenation’s secondary schools (National Education Association, 1969). In recent years, however, the interest in curriculum evaluation in particular has seemed to increase markedly.The public’s insistence on educational accountability, the experts’ demands for educational reform, and the educators’ concomitant need for evidence of results have all contributed to the current interest in theories and methods of curriculum evaluation.Unfortunately, much of this interest seems to have resulted in an ill-conceived obsessionwith test results. A broader perspective and more diversified approaches seem necessary.This desired breadth and diversification have been reflected throughout this work.Chapter 6 described a comprehensive assessment model that can be used in improving aprogram of studies. Chapter 8 emphasized the importance of evaluating new courses ofstudy. Chapter 11 described the importance of curriculum alignment. The intent of thischapter is to bring all these approaches into focus and to provide for greater understandingof the evaluation process. To that end, it begins by proposing a broad definition of the termcurriculum evaluation. It then describes several evaluation models. It concludes by proposing a comprehensive and eclectic process that can be used to evaluate a field of study,which is perhaps the most difficult curricular element that evaluators face.Questions addressed in this chapter include the following: What principles best define curriculum evaluation? What curriculum evaluation models are most effective?356
CHAPTER 12Curriculum Evaluation357 What criteria should be used to develop a curriculum evaluation model? How can learning experiences be organized for effective instruction? How can the effectiveness of learning experiences be evaluated? How can a field of study be evaluated? How can effective teaching be identified?Key to LeadershipSuccessful curriculum leaders realize that evaluation in education is to help the educational processbetter relate to individual learners.CURRICULUM EVALUATION DEFINEDThat broader perspective mentioned above requires a less constricting view of both thepurposes and foci of curriculum evaluation. In reviewing the literature and acquiring abroader understanding of purpose, two concepts delineated by Guba and Lincoln (1981)seem especially useful: merit and worth. Merit, as they use the term, refers to the intrinsicvalue of an entity—value that is implicit, inherent, and independent of any applications.Merit is established without reference to a context. Worth, on the other hand, is the valueof an entity in reference to a particular context or a specific application. It is the “payoff”value for a given institution or group of people. Thus, a given English course may seem tohave a great deal of merit in the eyes of experts: It may reflect sound theory, be built oncurrent research, and embody content that experts deem desirable. The same course, however, may have relatively little worth for a teacher instructing unmotivated working-classyouth in an urban school: It may require teaching skills that the teacher has not masteredand learning materials that the students cannot read. In this sense, then, curriculum evalua tion should be concerned with assessing both merit and worth.AssessmentLeadership TipCurriculum evaluation is an attempt to toss light on two questions: Do plannedcourses, programs, activities, and learning opportunities as developed andorganized actually produce desired results? How can the curriculum offeringsbest be improved?The foci of curriculum evaluation also need to be expanded. To use the concepts of thispresent work, curriculum evaluation should be concerned with assessing the value of aprogram of study (all the planned learning experiences over a multiyear period for a givengroup of learners), a field of study (all the planned learning experiences over a multiyear
358PART IIICURRICULUM MANAGEMENTperiod in a given discipline or area of study), and a course of study (all the planned learning experiences for a period of 1 year or less in a given field of study). All three levels ofcurriculum work are important. Substantive differences exist between evaluating a program of study and a field of study, and differences of scope exist between evaluating a fieldof study and a course of study.The foregoing analysis yields this stipulative definition of curriculum evaluation: Theassessment of the merit and worth of a program of studies, a field of study, or a course of study.EVALUATION MODELSHow can the merit and worth of such aspects of curriculum be determined? Evaluationspecialists have proposed an array of models, an examination of which can provide usefulbackground for the process presented in this work.Bradley’s Effectiveness ModelHow can a developed curriculum be assessed and evaluated for effectiveness? Bradley’s(1985) book Curriculum Leadership and Development Handbook provides 10 key indicatorsthat can be used to measure the effectiveness of a developed curriculum. The chart inExhibit 12.1 is designed to help you identify your perceptions regarding the 10 indicatorsto appraise curriculum effectiveness in your school building or district. To assesshow your school or district meets each of the indicators, respond with a Yes or No in thecolumn provided.EXHI BI T 12 . 1Bradley’s Effectiveness Model for Curriculum Development ntinuityThe course of study reflects a K–12 format that enables teachers to have quickand constant access to what is being taught in the grade levels below and abovethem. Also, upward spiraling prevents undue or useless curricular repetition.HorizontalcurriculumcontinuityThe course of study developed provides content and objectives that arecommon to all classrooms of the same grade level. Also, daily lesson plansreflect a commonality for the same grade level.Instructionbased oncurriculumLesson plans are derived from the course of study, and curriculummaterials used are correlated with the content, objectives, and authentictasks developed.CurriculumpriorityPhilosophical and financial commitments are evident. Clerical assistanceis provided and reasonable stipends are paid to teachers for work duringthe summer months. In addition, curriculum topics appear on schoolboard agendas, administrative meeting agendas, and building-staffmeeting agendas.Yes or No
CHAPTER 12Curriculum dings in the district have teacher representatives on the curricularcommittees; elementary, middle level or junior high, and high schoolprincipals (or designees) are represented; and school board members areapprised of and approve the course of study.Long-rangeplanningEach program in the district is included in the 5-year sequence and reviewcycle. Also, a philosophy of education and theory of curriculum permeate theentire school district.Decisionmaking clarityControversies that occur during the development of a program center on thenature of the decision, and not on who makes the decision.PositivehumanrelationsAlso, the initial thoughts about the curriculum come from teachers,principals, and the curriculum leader. All participating members are willingto risk disagreeing with anyone else; however, communication lines are notallowed to break down.Theory-intopracticeapproachThe district philosophy, vision, mission, exit (graduation) outcomes,program philosophy, rationale statement, program goals, program objectives,learning outcomes, and authentic tasks are consistent and recognizable.PlannedchangeTangible evidence shows that the internal and external publics accept thedeveloped program course of study for the school district. The process ofdeveloping a course of study for each program or discipline in a schooldistrict is no longer one of determining how to do it, but one of determininghow to do it better.359Yes or NoIf any of the 10 indicators are identified with a No (negative), consideration should be given to make it aYes (positive) indicator.SOURCE: The 10 indicators of effective curriculum development were adapted from Curriculum Leadership and DevelopmentHandbook (pp. 141–146), by L. H. Bradley, 1985, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.The indicators for effective curriculum development represent working characteristicsthat any complex organization must have in order to be responsive and responsible to itsclients. Further, the measurement can be oriented to meet the needs of any school district—from large to small—and it can focus on a specific evaluation of a district’s curriculum area,such as reading, language arts, math, or any content area designated. The models (Tyler’sobjectives-centered model; Stufflebeam’s context, input, process, product model; Scriven’sgoal-free model; Stake’s responsive model, and Eisner’s connoisseurship model) presentedbelow give some support to Bradley’s effectiveness model.Tyler’s Objectives-Centered ModelOne of the earliest curriculum evaluation models, which continues to influence manyassessment projects, was that proposed by Ralph Tyler (1950) in his monograph BasicPrinciples of Curriculum and Instruction. As explained in this work and used in numerous
360PART IIICURRICULUM MANAGEMENTlarge-scale assessment efforts, the Tyler approach moved rationally and systematicallythrough several related steps:1. Begin with the behavioral objectives that have been previously determined. Thoseobjectives should specify both the content of learning and the student behaviorexpected: “Demonstrate familiarity with dependable sources of information onquestions relating to nutrition.”2. Identify the situations that will give the student the opportunity to express thebehavior embodied in the objective and that evoke or encourage this behavior.Thus, if you wish to assess oral language use, identify situations that evokeoral language.3. Select, modify, or construct suitable evaluation instruments, and check theinstruments for objectivity, reliability, and validity.4. Use the instruments to obtain summarized or appraised results.5. Compare the results obtained from several instruments before and after givenperiods in order to estimate the amount of change taking place.6. Analyze the results in order to determine strengths and weaknesses of thecurriculum and to identify possible explanations about the reason for thisparticular pattern of strengths and weaknesses.7. Use the results to make the necessary modifications in the curriculum. (as cited inGlatthorn, 1987, p. 273)The Tyler model has several advantages: It is relatively easy to understand and apply. Itis rational and systematic. It focuses attention on curricular strengths and weaknesses,rather than being concerned solely with the performance of individual students. It alsoemphasizes the importance of a continuing cycle of assessment, analysis, and improvement. As Guba and Lincoln (1981) pointed out, however, it suffers from several deficiencies.It does not suggest how the objectives themselves should be evaluated. It does not providestandards or suggest how standards should be developed. Its emphasis on the prior statement of objectives may restrict creativity in curriculum development, and it seems to placeundue emphasis on the preassessment and postassessment, ignoring completely the needfor formative assessment. Similarly, Baron and Boschee (1995), in their book AuthenticAssessment: The Key to Unlocking Student Success, stress that “we are encountering fundamental changes in the way we view and conduct assessment in American schools” (p. 1).And “sixty years have passed since we experienced such a deep-seated and thoughtfulrevaluation of our assessment methods” (p. 1).Stufflebeam’s Context, Input, Process, Product ModelThese obvious weaknesses in the Tyler model led several evaluation experts in the late1960s and early 1970s to attack the Tyler model and to offer their own alternatives.
CHAPTER 12Curriculum Evaluation361The alternative that had the greatest impact was that developed by a Phi Delta Kappa committee chaired by Daniel Stufflebeam (1971). This model seemed to appeal to educationalleaders because it emphasized the importance of producing evaluative data for decisionmaking; in fact, decision making was the sole justification for evaluation, in the view ofthe Phi Delta Kappa committee.To service the needs of decision makers, the Stufflebeam model provides a means forgenerating data relating to four stages of program operation: context evaluation, whichcontinuously assesses needs and problems in the context to help decision makers determine goals and objectives; input evaluation, which assesses alternative means for achieving those goals to help decision makers choose optimal means; process evaluation, whichmonitors the processes both to ensure that the means are actually being implemented andto make the necessary modifications; and product evaluation, which compares actual endswith intended ends and leads to a series of recycling decisions.During each of these four stages, specific steps are taken: The kinds of decisions are identified.The kinds of data needed to make those decisions are identified.Those data are collected.The criteria for determining quality are established.The data are analyzed on the basis of those criteria.The needed information is provided to decision makers. (as cited in Glatthorn,1987, pp. 273–274)The context, input, process, product (CIPP) model, as it has come to be called, ha