Pros and Cons of a National Curriculum and Standards

National Curriculum (curriculum definition below)


Practical – provides a framework from which teachers can work

Agreement on broad common principles

Provides for equality of educational opportunity assess to knowledge for all students

Goal is to ensure vocational and economic success for individual and nation

Easier to transfer between schools

Less expensive

Fill political agendas

Less teacher education with the teacher as a facilitator

Curriculum focus on basic skills

Teach to the test

Easy to assess


Not every school is the same

Student achievement based solely on external tests

Focus on product instead of process (lack of critical thinking, problem solving)

Focus on societal needs as compared to individual

Less professional freedom and judgment, teacher autonomy, teacher as a technocrat

More competitive on an individual basis – no collaborative effort

Values are excluded subject orientation

Doesn’t realize the complexity of curriculum development

Lose teachable moments

Lack of democratic value without a democratic process

Lose student teacher interaction

Lack of creativity

Lose student autonomy

Imposed ideologies

Imposed religion

False sense of democracy

Lose community support

Narrow scope



Need to know what needs to be taught – guidelines


Standards are written and enforced by non-educators

Balanced Curriculum Pro

Looks at the whole curriculum – research based – individualized

Teachers have to know curriculum development, subject matter, students…


Takes time to develop, constantly changing

More expensive

Difficult to assess


Curriculum Includes

Connection to standards, community needs, and student needs

Teacher empowerment

Principled procedures

Flexibility and ability to change


Whole curriculum descriptions

Hidden curriculum imbedded

Objectives or outcomes

Assessment (formative, summative, diagnosis, prescriptive evaluative)

Ways to satisfy accountability




Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©