SchoolCurriculum Analysis


Thestudy of curriculum can be approached from different angles such asphilosophical, psychological, historical, and sociological stands.Belbase (2011), states that the concept of curriculum means differentthings to varying groups of people. There are those who perceive itas a classroom discussion object while others think of it as aprocess that learners and instructors should follow in class. Whilesome people treat it as classroom activity, others see it as the endresults that a student should achieve at the end of a particularschooling stage. For some people, curriculum is a static subject witha well-structured framework while to others it is dynamic, changingevery now and then depending on political, social, and economicfactors. As a result of these varying perspectives of the samesubject, this work aims at discussing the various foundations ofcurriculum and relating the same to Susan Miller Dorsey Senior HighSchool.

Acurriculum can simply be defined as a written document or plan ofactions that outlines goals of education and strategies for achievingthem (Ornstein&ampHunkins, 2013). Usually, the curriculum contains a statement ofspecific objectives and aims. Other important component of thecurriculum are teaching and learning programs, which include anevaluation process of the expected outcomes.

Curriculumdictates what should be taught, when it should be taught, and theextent to which the content should be taught. Belbase (2011) statesthat a school’s curriculum comprises of the subject matter andcontent coverable, a program of all activities involved, the intendedgoals and objectives of learning and carries the learningexperiences. Additionally, the curriculum may be thought of as ameans of cultural reproduction, as a discrete concepts and tasks, asa form of social reconstruction agenda and as currere(individualdifferences). These elements largely determine both theepistemological and ontological curriculum foundations and reflectedin varying curriculum’s philosophical backdrops specialists(Belbase, 2011). Relating the different metaphors that describecurriculum as seen above implies that although curriculum has thesame goal, there are varying ways of interpreting its impact(Ornstein &amp Hunkins, 2013).

CurriculumMap influencing Factors


SusanMiller Dorsey Senior High School is highly committed to teaching adirectly applicable curriculum to the job market in addition topreparing students for college entry. To achieve this end, thecurriculum outline involves specifying the requirements of the twocore parties to learning and teaching (the students and theinstructors). Ornstein and Hunkins (2013) suggest that in order for acurriculum to achieve its goal, emerging situations must be put intoconsideration and the instructors must be willing to accommodate andmake adjustment. Flexibility makes a curriculum operational andrelevant and it also reflects the ability of teachers to prioritizethe interest of learners over any other procedures outlined.Furthermore, students learn from interaction with their peers throughwhat is referred to as hidden curriculum (Ornstein &amp Hunkins,2013).

Inthe United States, among the many approaches to school curriculumthat exist, five different types are more applicable depending onvarying demographical, social-political, and economic factors. Theyinclude managerial system which have two disciplines (scientific andtechnical), behavioral, academic and humanistic which is made up ofall non-scientific areas (Ornstein &amp Hunkins, 2013). The approachunder which an institution may be classified is based on the subjectsor career courses offered. At the Dorsey School, career academiesoffered include digital film making and theatrical arts, Law andpublic service magnet, Community partners, business culinary arts andMath and science magnet. The school has many special services andextracurricular activities designed for both male and femalestudents. Based on these subjects, the school is in favor ofmanagerial system, academic and humanistic approaches of curriculumdynamics.

InLoss Angeles, all schools are required to observe the principle oftotal quality management in implementation of the curriculum (SapphosEnvironmental, Inc., 2014). The concept of total quality managementis reflected by the school capacity to offer learner centeredcurriculum which is the basis within which total quality managementworks (Ornstein &amp Hunkins, 2013). The students are the customersin an organization and the mandate of the instructors is to ensurethat they get the best instructional methods for advancement of theircareer goals. In line with this foundation, most courses offered arepractical in nature and the management from time to time looks foropportunities to expose learners to the outside environment byallowing visits in organizations and businesses where learners canget firsthand experience.

Moreover,the Dorsey Senior High school offers a variety of special services toits students aside from what is endowed by the regular curriculum.These services include search for employment opportunities andconnecting students to potential employers, processing work permitsfor students who wish to work as they study, provision of programsthat aid learners to search for jobs in their respective areas andaward of credit to students who are employed. Furthermore, there areRegional Programs (ROP) services, mentorship programs inarchitecture, construction and engineering, mentorship for female infashion, engineering and Architect, arts, graphic designs andprofessional development counseling, class scheduling and careercounseling and college scholarships. In addition to the specialservices, there are a number of intervention programs ranging fromCoordination of Service Team (COST) to School Attendance Review Team(SART) among other important arrangements.


Philosophicalfoundations of education are so diverse and are largely dependent onthe beliefs, culture, economic factors, religious views, andpolitical factors (Belbase, 2011). In the United States, educationalphilosophies in use in majority of schools are progressivism,essentialism, perenialismand reconstructionism(Ornstein &amp Hunkins, 2013). The authors classify thephilosophical foundations into two categories: modern approacheswhich include reconstructionismand progressivism and traditional approaches that is comprised ofPerenialismandessentialism. In Susan Miller Dorsey High Senior High School, all thephilosophies are exercised with a heavy bias on the perrenialismand reconstructionism.Perenialismemphasis on mental development that is critical for a person tohandle challenging tasks.

Coursessuch as theatrical arts and filmmaking, community partners and a hostof other computer based programs were developed with this goal in theminds of the developers. Over the years, the number of students whoreport to be attached to different employers has been increasing asthe school effort to connect students to jobs increase. This isinline with what Ornstein and Hunkins (2013) states that it isimportant for a curriculum to keep on being transformed to meet theemerging social, political, and economic issues affecting education.Currently, 75% of all students in the school are eligible for freelunch with a further 5% participating in reduced price-lunch.

Dynamicsof Philosophical Foundation of Curriculum

Asseen in the above discussion about forces of philosophicalism thataffect curriculum development at all levels, each component plays animportant role to students and instructors through epistemological,ontological, inception, design, methodological standpoints,evaluation, implementation, and reform. Martin and Looms (2007),states that perenialismis based on what is considered to be universal truth which makes theapproach more rigid as it expects goals of curriculum to be static inall places.Perenialismhas minimum application in subjects such as mathematics, which istaught together with science magnate to reduce the bias. In most ofthe courses offered at Susan Miller Dorsey Senior High School as wehave seen, it becomes necessary from time to time to change toaccommodate changes outside the school environment.

Asan alternative, the school is in support of essentialism which,according to Martin and Loomis (2007), is based on the idea thatschools should teach essential academic components of the broaderknowledge in existence, which is also referred to as core curriculum.In other words, skills acquisition that range from reading, writing,computing, designing, and computing are emphasized. An analysis ofthe courses offered, as I have highlighted above, reveals that apartfrom a few selected academic areas, the school is determined toensuring that learners leave the institutions with hands on skills.

Finally,the philosophy of Reconstructionism, which is apparently the mostrelevant to a school located in economically hard area with lowacademic performance, is yet to be fully adopted by the school. Thisphilosophy, whose goal is to respond to social ills and problems,focuses on social structures (Belbase, 2011). As a way towardsmitigating and eventually solving social problems, students must havea broad understanding of social issues. In my school work curriculummap, I revealed that learners who take history and social sciencesare required to study for at least three years. This is in line withthe recommendation of reconstructionism theory that view deepunderstanding of social environment and issues as a way forwardtowards solving social evils (Martin &amp Loomis, 2007).

Thisphilosophy covers the historical aspects of the society, puts acritical and analytical eye to the present circumstances and positionand reflects at all aspects such as crimes, economic condition,political position, wars fought in the past and the direction thatshould be adopted. Social aspects of the philosophy are premised onthe belief that education should facilitate equity and justice in thenational context and beyond. Susan Miller Dorsey Senior High schoolis rated at only 6 out of 10 in terms of ethnicity balance. In a citythat have all races, statistics shows that out of the over 1300students enrolled, 52% are black, 46% are Latino with other racesrecording next to 0% population. The curriculum appears to lacknecessary requirements that some people may consider crucial inaddition to the dilapidated learning facilities.


Formationof Los Angeles City School District: 1870-1932

Priorto 1870 to formation of Los Angeles City school districts, availableschools at that time were purely vernacular in style and utilitarianin nature with the objective of serving emerging communities (SapphosEnvironmental, Inc., 2014).Education board report indicated that most schools offered acurriculum that lacked uniformity, recorded significant gaps instudent’s performance and financing was a critical constraint. Twodecades after California became a member of the United States ofAmerica The Los Angeles City school District was established in1872. Following the amendment of constitution in 1879 that allowedeach city to establish a curriculum and its delivery method that bestsuits them, educators in Los Angeles commenced the initiative todevelop a program for their new district. The curriculum developmentbecome subject to continuous improvement in the Entire United Statesduring both the 19hand the 20thcentury (Sapphos Environmental, Inc., 2014).

In1900, Los Angeles board of education launched a city wide poll whereall citizens were asked for their opinion about the subjects theythought should be taught from kindergarten to college level (SapphosEnvironmental, Inc., 2014). Immediately after the survey’sdistribution throughout the city, results were compiled and publicforums conducted to discuss the way forward. This procedure became anongoing means through which the education board would solicit inputfrom the community. This era saw establishment of many special needsinstitutions for people with disabilities and a special focus onskills that led to construction of the first polytechnic in 1904.

Depressionafter World War II: 1933-1944

In1933, Long beach earthquake led to great depression which was soonfollowed by onset of World War II. Los Angeles curriculum ofsecondary school underwent major adjustments as new areas of emphasishad to be initiated from college preparatory scheme to realitystudies to meet individual students need and state’s need fortrained manpower (Sapphos Environmental, Inc., 2014). Social studiescourses were expanded to meet contemporary issues and the need tohave more applied topics directly to consumers rather than forresearch purposes.

In1935, National Youth Administration (NYA) was authorized by congresswhich targeted to employ young adults between 16 and 25 years old.Following the advent of World War II, the major area of focus becamesecurity, leading to development of defense related specialization ina number of secondary schools. By 1940, Los Angeles board ofeducation had launched National Defense Training (NDT) program in 10evening high schools and 13 regular high schools. In 1942, with theintention of improving food productivity, Rural War ProductionTraining program was initiated soon after the U.S. entry into the war(Sapphos Environmental, Inc., 2014).

PostwarExpansion: Baby Boom Education: 1945-1969

TheU.S. education faced dire shortage of educational facility in theperiod following World War II to 1950 due to expansion of enrolmentrate in both secondary and elementary schools. In the periodfollowing 1955, education mainly focused on construction of modernfacilities to accommodate the fast growing population that the U.Swas experiencing after the increased economic activities and peace.In the early 1960’s, attention was drawn to the ever increasingshortage of teachers and the evolving area of childhood developmenteducation prompting researchers to shift gears in that area (SapphosEnvironmental Inc., 2014). Currently, the ratio of students toteachers at the Dorsey school falls short of national requirementleading to the average academic performance achieved.

TheDorsey school is among the schools that were impacted by 1960’scurriculum changes. The Progressive Education Movement conducted anassessment in many institutions and came to a conclusion that manyschools did not harness maximally the creativity and curiosity of achild. Classrooms design and teaching methods were required to offera favorable environment through which this could be achieved. By late1960’s, the push for a more flexible and creative curriculum wereintensified as well as diversification of instructional methods. Insouthern California alone, at least 18 schools, among them the DorseySchool had commenced implementation of the newly reformed curriculumprogram by 1968.


Toencourage students performance, in addition to using the bestinstructional methods and educational materials and facilities,learners must be positively reinforced continuously (Ornstein &ampHunkins, 2013). As highlighted in the school curriculum map project,Susan Miller Dorsey high school has many special services gearedtowards encouraging students to remain focused. For instance, the jobsearch programs help secure opportunities for diligent learners whilethe credit awards certification for students who are working is apositive reinforcement to encourage participation of more students.Courses offered are also highly practical which creates a learners’positive attitude towards participating and in the process enhancingtheir cognitive abilities.

Asregards to humanistic approach of psychological foundation, theschool has in place a program to provide free lunch to the vastmajority who cannot afford a meal. Over 80% of the entire schoolpopulation is subject to this benefit. In addition, the teachers andthe students have established very close ties that enable students toshare psychological issues such as stress, anxiety, and depressionwith the aim of getting solutions. With a department to addresschronic psychological problem that is relatively well staffed, theschool is on the right direction in psychological perspective.


SusanMiller Dorsey High School shows its commitment towards achievingsocial goals of education by having in place a variety of fieldactivities and games that students can participate in. According toOrnstein and Hunkins (2013), social activities are as important aseducational content and facilities are to shaping a well-adjustedmember of the society. While jobs are mainly awarded to students whodemonstrate hard work and emerge academic giants of their respectiveclasses, the school has a system that rewards virtues such ashonesty, humanitarian acts, and excellent interpersonal skills. Mostof the students who get such awards are historically believed to bevery successful once outside the school.

Missionand Vision Statement

Theschool’s mission is to be provide quality education, become acornerstone through which success can be achieved in the society andprovide an educational background that will prepare students to becompetent in tertiary institutions. In an effort to realize this,Dorsey School applies the concept of three R- Rigor, Relationshipsand Relevance (Dorsey High School, 2016). The concepts are criticalguides to achieving optimum outcomes from students. Rigorous corecurriculum learning and teaching framework are some of the waysthrough which ‘rigor’ is achieved coupled with a master plan ofpromoting high quality teaching and critical thinking in learners.Relationships are achieved by personal attention to students by theadministration, faculty and structured academic and career goals.Relevance is attained through making learning more reflective of thereal world and relevant to students in all dimensions includingcultural aspects.

Rewritingthe Mission

TheDorsey School has a mandate to educate students to achieve the bestacademic results and most relevant practical skills. To achieve this,continuous development of curriculum must be practiced to accommodateemerging changes without leaving out perpetual involvement of allstakeholders. Academic goals must be relevant to the job market andmust lead to eradication of social evils such as poverty in thecommunity. All these factors must be provided in a motivatingenvironment to both the leaners and the instructors.


Sinceit is clear that all the philosophical foundations of a curriculumdevelopment and implementation plays a special role in the endresult, the board and committee assigned the responsibility to designthe important program must put into perspective all areas. To addressthe social and economic problems specific for the Dorsey school,having in mind the students’ backgrounds, educators shouldencourage students to put more emphasis on market applicable coursethat can enable them secure employment even as they pursue theiracademic goals. Of special emphasis should be the study of socialsciences with the aim of attaining the right attitude towards asuccessful community.


Belbase,S. (2011). Philosophicalfoundations for curriculum decision: A reflective analysis (pp.3-18). Leramie: College of Education, University of Wyoming.

DorseyHigh School. (2016). Vision&amp Mission – About Us – Dorsey High School. Retrievedfrom

Martin,D.J., &amp Loomis, K.S. (2007). Buildingteachers: A constructivist approach to introducing education.Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth.pdf

Ornstein,A.C., &amp Hunkins, F. P. (2013).&nbspCurriculum:Foundations, principles, and issues, 6thEd.&nbspBoston:Allyn &amp Bacon.

SapphosEnvironmental Inc. (2014). LosAngeles unified school district historic context statement, 1870 To1969 (1sted., pp. 2-140). Loss Angeles: Los Angeles Unified School DistrictOffice of Environmental Health and Safety.