The U.S. Department of Education recently granted the College of William and Mary’s School of Education $1.3 million to design a new U.S history curriculum for middle school students across the nation.
The curriculum aims to assist students at risk for underachieving.
The money came from the USE-operated Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program, and focuses on students who are traditionally underrepresented in programs tailored to gifted students. Students who are economically disadvantaged or speak little English are likely to fall into this category.
By changing the curriculum, School of Education Assistant Professor Dr. Jeremy D. Stoddard, who specializes in secondary education, said he hopes to get students engaged in social studies and curb the drop-out rates in the at-risk schools targeted by the Javits Center.
The new curriculum will focus on topics of interest to adolescents and incorporate technology that will allow students to participate actively in the learning process.
“Classes will have less lectures and will be more discussion and inquiry-based,” Stoddard said. “They will incorporate more perspectives from marginalized groups in American history, such as African-Americans and lower-class whites. It will no longer be based solely on the stories of ‘dead white men.’”
The new curriculum has already received positive attention from schools across the nation. Several middle schools in Alabama, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia have expressed interest in the new U.S. history curriculum.
Stoddard said reactions to the new curriculum have been overwhelmingly positive. Many of the interested schools have worked with the College in the past and are eager to make the switch.
Stoddard believes the program will help underachieving and traditionally underrepresented students improve their overall academic performance, as well as their standardized test scores.