Thursday, May 20, 2004

Understanding opportunity costs: The academic standards edition 

Within this primal scream by Gene Pelowski against the new standards (though I have to say, "the Stepford curriculum" is a nice turn of a phrase), we get a little lesson in curriculum development. Opponents kept complaining about the cost of the revisions they will now have to adopt. And yet,
Susan Roehrich, curriculum director for Winona Area Public Schools, says the cost to implement new social studies and science standards for K-12 in Winona could reach $500,000.

In the fall, groups will be formed to look at the new standards and compare them to what is being taught, Roehrich said.

"Find out where the gaps and the holes are, the overlaps," she said.

At that point, the district will discuss whether to buy all new textbooks or just supplement the current curriculum with CD-ROMs and other materials, Roehrich said.

Winona updates and replaces its curriculum on a cycle, she said. The district's reading program was replaced a few years ago, and math is almost done.

So it's just about time to consider what to do with social studies and science anyhow, she said.

"Actually, the timing is really good," Roehrich said.
In other words, they we going to do it anyway, and they had already budgeted for curriculum development. Like most folks in accounting, the auditor's report does not take into account whether or not curriculum would be reviewed and updated even if no new standards were passed.