Curriculum Reform

The set of courses that a school, university, or other educational institution offers—and, at times, requires for graduation—constitutes its curriculum; these courses may be determined at the school or district level, but more frequently they are influenced by educational legislation and policy. RAND has investigated and advised policymakers on curriculum development in schools worldwide, including helping to redesign the entire curriculum for Qatar's K-12 schools and universities.

  • Teacher helping a high school student on a computer


    Recommendations for ESEA Reauthorization That Support Innovation

    As lawmakers consider the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it is critical that in meeting their objectives they do not create unnecessary obstacles to the productive innovations being explored at schools, such as personalized learning.

    Jan 27, 2015

  • Students taking a test in a classroom


    Reauthorizing ESEA: Four Recommendations to Make Testing Work

    Will Congress be able to reauthorize ESEA in 2015? Success will depend on legislators clearing several hurdles, such as decisions regarding teacher quality, school improvement, and charter schools. And at the center of the debate remains the issue of federal requirements for testing.

    Jan 21, 2015

  • Two Indian college students outdoors


    Building a Sound Technical and Vocational Education and Training System

    Technical and vocational education and training in India has expanded significantly over the past two decades. But quality and relevance remain significant issues. What may be learned from other countries' experiences?

    Dec 31, 2014

  • Two high school or college students working together


    A Plan for Measuring Hard-to-Measure, 'Soft' Skills

    Research increasingly suggests that “soft” skills are important for college and career success, as well as for promoting civic engagement. So far, these skills are largely unmeasured in schools. But new research may pave the way for change.

    Dec 10, 2014

  • High school students collaborating


    Measuring Hard-to-Measure Student Competencies

    Interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies such as communication and resilience are important predictors of success and civic engagement after high school. They're also difficult to measure. Practical, high-quality measures could help educators and policymakers improve outcomes for students.

    Nov 3, 2014

  • U.S Marine with many medals


    Mending the Marriage Between Colleges and the Military

    Without a concerted effort to change military executive education, military services will continue a misguided effort to buy academic credibility, and some elite universities will continue selling their names. Most importantly, the United States will miss an opportunity to hone the critical thinking of its next generation of military leaders.

    Aug 18, 2014

  • A high school student gets instruction from her teacher

    Research Brief

    Competency-Based Education in Three Pilot Programs: What It Is, How It's Implemented, and How It's Working

    In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation extended grants to three organizations involved with competency-based education approaches. RAND examined these organizations' implementation, student experiences, and student outcomes.

    Aug 4, 2014

  • High school students with teacher in class, using laptops


    Examining Competency-Based Education

    Competency-based education meets students where they are academically, provides opportunities for choice, and awards students credit for evidence of learning, not time spent studying a subject. Researchers identify lessons for policy, partnerships, and practice regarding this approach.

    Aug 4, 2014

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    How New Deeper Learning Tests Measure Up

    English language arts and mathematics items from a group of nationally and internationally administered “deeper learning” tests were more cognitively demanding than previously studied state tests. Demand also varied by subject and item format. These and other findings provide a benchmark for comparing how well new tests assess deeper learning.

    Mar 3, 2014

  • Journal Article

    The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in Mexico as Preparation for Higher Education

    In this study we analyse the relationship between Mexican students' enrolment in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) and their college preparedness using a case-study methodology.

    Jan 1, 2014

  • high school students using computers, boy blue plaid shirt


    Cognitive Tutor: Encouraging Signs for Computers in the Classroom

    A first-year algebra curriculum that blends tutoring software with conventional textbook learning had a positive effect for high school algebra students. Researchers found significant improvements—a change equivalent to moving from the 50th percentile to the 58th on an algebra posttest.

    Nov 19, 2013

  • group of students working on computers

    Research Brief

    Does an Algebra Course with Tutoring Software Improve Student Learning?

    A “blended” approach that combines traditional textbook learning and computer-based instruction could help improve performance among algebra students.

    Nov 18, 2013

  • girl with head scarf in classroom


    Guiding Education Reform in Qatar

    Qatar's leadership asked RAND to examine the country's K-12 school system and provide options for improvement. Researchers collected and analyzed information by observing schools, government ministries, and other workplaces; conducting interviews; and analyzing relevant documents.

    Sep 20, 2013

  • Students at James A. Garfield High School immersed in an engineering project


    Transforming Schools by Developing 21st Century Skills

    If students are to learn the skills they need to succeed in tomorrow's competitive world, educators may need to rethink yesterday's teaching practices. That's the rationale behind teaching 21st century skills, which include high-order abilities like teamwork and critical thinking.

    Jul 18, 2013

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    The Common Core State Standards and DoD Education Activity Schools

    As it implements the Common Core State Standards, the Department of Defense Education Activity should consider developing and providing implementation-specific supports to its schools.

    Nov 12, 2012

  • teenager with laptop


    Nine Lessons on How to Teach 21st Century Skills and Knowledge

    Despite widespread agreement among parents, educators, employers and policymakers worldwide that students need skills like critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and creativity, these skills are stubbornly difficult to teach and learn, write Anna R. Saavedra and V. Darleen Opfer.

    Oct 19, 2012

  • Journal Article

    Learning 21st-Century Skills Requires 21st-Century Teaching

    The authors summarize nine lessons from the science of learning telling how students learn 21st-century skills and how pedagogy can address their needs.

    Oct 1, 2012

  • Journal Article

    Improved Learning in U.S. History and Decision Competence with Decision-Focused Curriculum

    Integrating decision training enhanced academic performance and improved an important, general life skill associated with improved life outcomes.

    Sep 1, 2012

  • Report

    Analysis of Costs in an Algebra I Curriculum Effectiveness Study

    Examines the costs of implementing Carnegie Learning's Cognitive Tutor Algebra I curriculum and comparison algebra I curricula (published by Prentice Hall, Glencoe, and McDougal Littell).

    Jul 12, 2012

  • Research Brief

    Transforming Indonesia's Centralized Education System to School-Based Management

    This study provides a quantitative and qualitative status report on the implementation of school-based management (SBM) in Indonesia, identifies factors associated with the successful practices of SBM, and assesses SBM effects on student achievement.

    Jun 5, 2012