Surveys of enacted curriculum
The Surveys of Enacted Curriculum (SEC) methodology is an educational research tool for analysing alignment among different components of academic content, such as curriculum standards, classroom instruction, and assessments.
Instructional alignment is a core tenet of quality education. In most education systems, there is an expectation that curriculum standards, national and classroom level assessments, and teachers’ classroom instruction will align with each other and with the learning needs of students. It is important, therefore, to understand the content, progression, and alignment of these instructional components.
The Surveys of Enacted Curriculum (SEC) methodology facilitates the systematic description and analysis of the academic content that is embedded in these instructional components. It also enables teachers to reflect on their instructional content and practices, and shows the links between teachers’ instruction and children’s opportunity to learn.
Figure 1: Ideally, instructional components would be well-aligned with each other and with students’ learning needs.
The SEC methodology produces visualisations of the content of curriculum standards, teachers’ instruction, assessments, and more, and quantifies the degree of alignment (or misalignment) between the components. It also describes content progression over time and across grades, bringing concreteness to the concept of curricular and instructional pace. The SEC diagnoses areas in which content alignment or progression could be improved to support children’s learning.
The methodology was pioneered by researchers with the Center for Curriculum Analysis, and has been applied in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nepal, Egypt, and throughout the United States. The RISE Programme has used the methodology to analyse system alignment in Tanzania and Uganda, and to understand the implementation of a new integrated curriculum in Nepal in partnership with RTI International. RISE is developing a toolkit to facilitate the use of SEC in additional contexts.
Figure 2: SEC visualises and quantifies the differences in content coverage in Ugandan primary English curriculum standards, teachers’ classroom instruction, and primary leaving exams.
Note: Visualisations represent 3-dimensional content maps. Instructional topics are on the Y axis, levels of cognitive demand on the X axis, and level of emphasis on the Z axis. The panels show Ugandan English curriculum standards aggregated for Grades 1–7 (Panel 1), Ugandan English teacher instruction aggregated for Grades 3 and 5 (Panel 2), and aggregate Ugandan English primary leaving exams from 2013 to 2015 (Panel 3).
- Journal article: Measuring education system coherence: Alignment of curriculum standards, examinations, and teacher instruction in Tanzania and Uganda
- RISE working paper: System (in)coherence: Quantifying the alignment of primary education curriculum standards, examinations, and instruction in two East African countries
- Blog: System (In)Coherence Seen through a Curriculum Lens: Ugandan Teachers Face Conflicting Demands from Curriculum and Examination Bodies