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The Most Significant Curriculum Stories of 2011

As predictable as overeating during the holiday season: the year-in-review stories. We can't seem to resist them at EdWeek, either. We've got a little collection of them posted on a special page on our website. One of them is a list of the 10 most memorable curriculum stories of 2011.

There aren't any surprises here, of course. My colleague and co-blogger Erik Robelen has been tracking the intense national interest in improving education in science, technology, engineering, and math. (It's so intense, in fact, that I call him Erik "The STEM" Robelen.) I've been keeping an eye on the process of turning common standards into curriculum and instruction, and the work to get better at assessing what students have learned. All of this stuff will, of course, continue to be huge in 2012.

One blogger is already predicting that the common core will come apart in at least a few states. Since I'm not a betting kind of gal, I'm not going to wade into the wager pond here. But how well the common core holds together certainly bears watching in the coming year. Likewise, how the common assessments take shape—and whether states and their higher-ed institutions stay on board with them—is something well worth monitoring, too.

In the nearer term, a few interesting tidbits rolled out in the last couple of weeks. If you were away from the office and email, as I was, you might want to check them out.

The final federal budget deal for fiscal 2012, awaiting President Obama's signature, protected key administration initiatives. We'll have a suite of stories up soon about how literacy and other curriculum issues fared in that spending plan. Erik gives you a preview in a blog post.

A little tidbit that I noticed this week exemplifies what we are going to be seeing more of in the states: scrambling to assemble resources to help teachers with the common core standards. California has a new handbook meant to do just that as the state works on instructional frameworks.

The American Legislative Exchange Council is getting some scrutiny. A story in today's Washington Post gives voice to critics who see it as exerting inappropriate influence in many state legislatures. You might recall that ALEC has been debating the common core standards; we told you about that in a recent blog post.

And in a year when we've heard a ton about common standards, not only in math and English/language arts but in science and social studies, a story in The Baltimore Sun tells us that there is discussion about national standards for musical achievement. It's funny; I guess the phrase "national standards"—so studiously avoided by common-standards proponents—doesn't have the fearful ring of political opposition in the music world.

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