Monday, March 7, 2011

April 1976: Evaluating Elective Programs

Question: Speaking of elective programs, how were they evaluated, judged, by their peers?

Answer: Quote. “Four years ago, the English curriculum of Minneapolis South High School, was evaluated by a team representing the North Central Association, our accrediting agency. The report, generally favorable, pointed out as one of our weaknesses the following: ‘Because of the lack of a systematic way of developing and evaluating elective courses, fragmentation, duplication, and apparent ‘hodgepodgism’ have resulted.’ We suspect that this charge might be leveled against hundreds of English curriculums across the country which are based on electives. There are exciting stews being offered in elective curriculums, each one probably having a slightly different flavor, using different kinds of meats and vegetables. The main criticism aimed at these ‘stew’ curriculums is that students may never get a well balanced meal. If they ever ate the whole curriculum, they might, but if they had free choice, they might well push aside those parts of the stew which might seem to them at first glance distasteful.”

Comment: I think “hodgepodge” is a pretty good description of the main weakness of most elective programs in the ‘70s. Remember that when elective programs have their reincarnation in the future. We reduced the number of electives by instituting three year-long courses: Writing, Speech and American Literature, Writing Speech and British Literature and Writing, Speech and World Literature at three levels, Advanced Placement, Level One and Level Two. Students were required to take two year-long courses and could choose electives, if they wished, for one of the three years. RayS.

Title: “Elective English: Three Case Histories. Moving Out of the Hodge Podge.” David Bane and Margaret Reed. English Journal (April 1976), 43-47.

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