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This report presents the design and pilot study of a model for collecting in-depth, benchmark data on school coursework, intended to improve the quality of curriculum data obtained through national surveys of classroom teachers. Homework, quizzes, classroom exercises, projects, and exams were collected over the course of a semester from 70 mathematics teachers in California and Washington. The teachers also completed daily logs of their instructional practices. These data were compared with teachers' responses on surveys similar to those used in national data collection efforts. The results showed how well survey data measure curriculum, as compared with data that are closer to actual classroom instruction. Procedures are recommended for periodically validating data collected from large-scale surveys, and enhancements in the type and number of items included on those surveys are suggested.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Study Methods

  • Chapter Three

    Instructional Context

  • Chapter Four

    Instructional Strategy

  • Chapter Five

    Instructional Goals

  • Chapter Six

    Design Choices for Improved Curriculum Indicators

  • Appendix

    Survey Instruments

  • References

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Education Statistics.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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