School curriculum refers to a particular set of courses that a school or governing body designates, but may also refer to a variety of activities designed to foster education and meet the needs of a learning community. Whether you are a student seeking to understand your curriculum options, or a teacher looking to create curriculum standards, this section provides information and resources to help you understand the legal perspective of setting a strong curriculum. Select from the list of titles below to learn more.
Determinations about students' curriculums have traditionally been made by local governments. This permitted communities some flexibility in teaching the skills necessary to succeed in the local society and economy. However, there is a growing trend toward the standardization of primary and secondary school education. At present, there is no national curriculum that all school districts are required to teach.
School boards must design a curriculum that furthers "legitimate pedagogical concerns;" though this term is rarely defined with any specificity. School boards are frequently left to determine for themselves what this means. State and federal authorities may provide guidance and frequently have better resources to research and develop the most effective policies on the behalf of schools. Although a universal definition has not been developed for "legitimate pedagogical concerns," courts have given some indication what activities would fall outside the definition. Examples of curriculum items that would be prohibited include material that includes.
Each school district has its own process for developing curriculums. However, the curriculums increasingly subject school administrators and boards of education to scrutiny and criticism from parents and organizations that have their own idea of what should be part of the school curriculum. Beyond agreeing that schools should teach students the basics of reading, writing, math, history, science, and citizenship; there is very little agreement about what should be included in school curricula.