Faculty & Research

Recent Publications - Books

Deciding What to Teach and Test: Developing, Aligning, and Leading the Curriculum (Third Edition)

English, F. W.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press (2010)

ISBN-10: 1412960134
ISBN-13: 978-1412960137

Find on Google Books

Fenwick W. English recently published the third edition of the book, Deciding what to teach and test: Developing, aligning, and leading the curriculum. The book was first published by Corwin Press in 1992 and became a best-seller. The second edition was published in 2000.

Reviewers have called the third edition of the book thought-provoking, influential and informative. "This book makes the reader think deeply about the role of curriculum planning and its connection to assessment in this age of accountability," wrote Jeannette Lovern of Eastern Kentucky University.

"For educators who want students and schools to be successful, this book provides a clear and proven process to accomplish this goal. It is succinct, yet packed with what’s really important to create, develop, assess, and lead curriculum," wrote leadership development consultant Jane McDonald.

The book addresses the fundamentals of curriculum design in the context of a standards-based environment. It focuses on how administrators and teachers can collaborate to create a high-quality curriculum for all students. The book provides guidance on curriculum mapping and other user-friendly tools; new information on differentiating teaching, learning, and assessment for special education students, English language learners and others; and content on addressing cultural differences in curriculum content and assessment practices.

New features of this edition include: a list of key terms; a template for curriculum construction; tips on aligning the curriculum with assessments; a troubleshooting guide; and a list of additional resources.

Section 1 defines curriculum and its function in schools. The chapter explores design and delivery issues and explores formal, informal and “hidden” curricula. Conventional practices and complaints about curriculum are reviewed, and a model of curriculum relationships and terms is proposed.

In Section 2, English presents a template for curriculum construction. He discusses the traditional view of developing curriculum and then suggests how to use a needs assessment to develop a curricular framework. Guidelines are presented for constructing “user friendly” curriculum work plans and for moving from the curriculum content to work tasks. The chapter then explores “user friendly” curriculum guides and how to construct them.

Section 3 focuses on aligning the curriculum. It explores issues in the alignment process, including frontloading and backloading. English discusses the challenge of curriculum leadership in the intersection of teaching and testing.

Finally, Section 4 raises questions and explores issues inherent in the responsibility for curriculum leadership. English cautions against embracing mindsets and models that marginalize others, or adopting outmoded management models. He explains why some data are not valuable or relevant and explores the drawbacks of “top-down” supervisory approaches.

English is the R. Wendell Eaves Sr. Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His scholarship includes more than 25 books and over 100 articles published in both practitioner and academic journals. Currently, English teaches in the Educational Leadership Program at the master’s and doctoral level.  He is past president of the University Council for Educational Administration.