The History of Curricula in American Schools

Timeline created by chekanp
  • Pilgrims Landing on Plymouth Rock

    Pilgrims Landing on Plymouth Rock
    Curriculum in American school can be traced back to the 17th century when Europeans settled in North America. With limited resources the Bible became the primary curricular material to teach students how to read and write. In the early 17th century religious and moral education was the primary focus of education. Not not just influence education, it was the reason for education (Edgar, 2009).
  • The Establishment of Harvard College

    When Harvard college was established the curriculum was constructed to educate and train ministers. The exclusivity of Harvard represented the role of higher education of being reserved for the colony's elite males. Harvard also influenced the curriculum secondary schools in the colonies. For example, the Latin Grammar Schools curriculum included reading, writing, and arithmetic for the purpose of preparing students for entry into Harvard (Edgar, 2009).
  • The New England Primer was Published

    The New England Primer was Published
    The publishing of The New England Primer by Benjamin Harris was likely the first school textbook published in the colonies and the most widely used. The textbook focused on religious doctrine and moral lessons, which represents the inseparable connection between religion and schooling and during the 17th century (Edgar, 2009)
  • Student Protests at Colleges

    In the 1740's many college students began protesting about the instructional focus of colleges within the colonies. The students wanted the classical curriculum and focus of study to expand beyond what was suitable for ministers and lawyers. Despite the students effort little was done immediately to change the curricular focus at colleges. However, the sentiment of expanding the skills taught through schooling continued to grow (Edgar, 2009).
  • The First Academy School is Established

    The First Academy School is Established
    In the 1751 the first Academy School was established by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. The curriculum of the Academy Schools were similar to the Latin Grammar Schools, however a greater emphasis was placed on more practical skills such as accounting, book keeping, and mathematics. This symbolizes the beginning of the American School Curriculum expanding beyond religion and the classics (Edgar, 2009).
  • Establishment of the Litchfield Female Academy

    Before the Litchefield Female Academy was established in 1792 there were no formal education opportunities for young women in the colonies. The creation of the Female Academy symbolized the first signs of a mindset to make education inclusive for both genders (Edgar, 2009).
  • The Boston Latin Grammar Schools Incorporates Arithmetic

    When the Boston Latin Grammar School incorporated arithmetic into its curriculum in 1814 it represented the demand for a more robust and expansive curriculum. By the mid 1800's arithmetic became a primary focus of the American's curriculum, almost as much as literacy.
  • Establishment of Free Schooling in Massachusetts

    In 1827 free public education was made available to all white children. The establishment of common schools began the transition of schooling from a private practice to a public responsibility. The operation cost were paid by local property taxes. Although not completely inclusive, education was becoming more accessible. With the establishment of public education the curriculum transitioned to emphasize shared values and loyalties of America. By 1870 all states had free education (Edgar, 2009).
  • Publishing of McGuffery Readers

    Publishing of McGuffery Readers
    The McGuffery Readers were the first set of published text book that were leveled by different grades. Unlike the New England Primer, the McGuffery Readers did not focus on religious doctrine but rather world literature and basic values. With the addition of the readers came a greater curriculum emphasis on writing and the notion of universal literacy. The creation of the readers represents a greater goal of education to raise upstanding citizens (Edgar, 2009).
  • The Establishment of the Committee of Ten

    With an on going debate in the late 1800's regrading the role of High Schools the National Education Association created a committee of educators to establish a standard curriculum. The committee expanded the role of high school in addition to preparing students for college to preparing students to do well in life. Thus they recommended expanding the curriculum of high schools to offer alternatives to Latin and Greek classic curricula (Edgar, 2009).
  • The Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education

    In 1918 the Commission of the Reorganization of Secondary Education released the The Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education. The principles focused on the individual student and reflected the ideology of progressive education which construction curriculum through the lens of the learner's best interest. Under progressive education curricula in America school transitioned from "mechanical ingestion of information" (Edgar, 2009, p. 33) to the development of skills.
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

    Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
    The Supreme Court ruling issued in Brown v. Board of Education found that segregating schools based on race was unconstitutional. The establishment of schooling in America was based on inequality, but as the century passed efforts have been made to increase equity in schools. The ruling in the Supreme Court case is an important step in an effort to ensure that quality curriculum is accessible to all American students.
  • The Progressive Education Association Disbanded

    The disintegration of the PEA represents that the end of the progressive education and the transition to a discipline-centered curriculum. During this time there was a belief that America was under performing in comparison to the Soviet Union and a curricular focus was employed to systemically design curriculum around knowledge, not students (Edgar, 2009).
  • The Dawn of Humanistic Curriculum

    In response to the Civil rights Vietnam War a more humanistic curriculum was advocated in American schools. This curriculum focused on man and "utilized social problems, human concerns, and other principles of as center for curriculum organization" (Edgar, 2009, p. 41). This philosophy contrasted the discipline-centered curriculum which was championed just a decade before.
  • A Nation at Risk

    A Nation at Risk
    A Nation at Risk, published in 1983, increased awareness and fear about the under-performance of American Schools and began the conversation about the role of the Federal Government in education. Talks of establishing a national curriculum or set of standards began (Edgar, 2009).
  • Goal 2000: Educate America Act

    Met with controversy the President Clinton's Goal 2000 Act laid the framework for developing a national curriculum standards. The Act ushered in the era of accountability that emphasized measurable assessment to access the quality of schools. Although, a set of national standards were not developed the act paved the way for No Child Left Behind (Edgar, 2009).
  • No Child Left Behind Act

    The No child Left Behind Act was passed by the federal government in 2001. It assembled teacher and assessment requirements that were essential for states to get federal funding. It main focus was to ensure that the overwhelming majority of students earned proficiency on the state's standardized assessments. Sanctions and assistance were provided to school districts based on their student's performance. The increase of accountability ushered in an era of high stakes testing (Edgar, 2009).