The National Standards Curriculum (NSC) may and can be seen as a dynamic, challenging, inspiring and inclusive curriculum for the 21st Century learner. This design of the new NSC represents a major transformation for the Jamaican education system. There is now a paradigm shift from a content/knowledge -based education sphere to a more competency-based system, which embodies knowledge, skills and attitudes. This approach will invariably ensure that all learners acquire the essential knowledge, requisite skills and desired attitudes for success in their personal life, at the workplace, in the society and within the global environment.
The NSC via multiple and flexible pathways through school to tertiary studies and or employment, is geared to maximize the potential for all students to develop competencies that might lead them to employment and so contribute to the future development of the country
The National Standards Curriculum (NSC) will empower students to:
- Think more creatively in order to implement viable solutions to problems in the real world. The project based approach in the curriculum will support a problem-solving culture.
- Better understanding themselves as Jamaicans, acting locally while thinking globally. The reintroduction of civics in the curriculum will help this objective.
- Think more critically in order to more clearly understand issues. Analysis and critical thinking skills are infused across the curriculum, as way of encouraging higher-order thinking.
- Become more research-driven and scientific thinkers. The Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) methodology supports the use of scientific methods and research-based operation across all subject areas.
The Five key areas of emphasis are:
- Visual & Performing Arts, Physical Education
- Project-Based Learning
- Culture and Identity
- Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
- Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) principles.
Some subjects added were added while others were adjusted for the new NSC curriculum.
Grades 1-3: Lower Primary – Integrated
Civics, Resource & Technology, and Spanish were added. Mathematics and Language Arts will receive separate focus within their windows. The aesthetics (the Performing Arts, the visual Arts and Physical Education) and Culture will continue to be the main “drivers” of the curriculum, serving as media and contexts of instruction and interaction.
Civics, Resource & Technology (R&T) and Spanish were added. the nature of R&T comes alive through projects in four areas of discipline (Agriculture and the Environment, Family and Consumer management, Business basic and Industrial Techniques). HFLE and Guidance and Counselling are also included at this level.
The key aims of the NSC are to develop:
- successful lifelong learners
- confident and productive individuals
- young people who are aware of and value their Jamaican identity and citizenship
These three key aims underpin all learning in the curriculum and provide its purpose and direction so that children:
- develop a love for learning
- believe they and others can be successful
- demonstrate confidence in their ability and relate well with others
- practise the values and attitudes of “good” citizenship
Key Features of the NSC
The following are the new features/changes in the NSC.
- The NSC constitutes a Framework Document outlining the– vision, aims, values & principles, the competencies & the subjects
- Curriculum Standards – outline what all students are expected to know and be able to do at the end of a grade level – in different content areas
- Teachers’ Guide – The teaching units; learning objectives, teaching/learning strategies, assessment, learning outcomes etc.
- The NSC emphasises the constructivist approach and it is learner centred.
- The NSC emphasises the use of, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Depth of Knowledge (DOK), and the 5E’s Teaching Model.
- ICT is used as a tool for instruction in each subject area.
- Pedagogy is in-keeping with developmentally appropriate practices, and has kept abreast of current and effective trends in education.
- Greater emphasis is placed on the practical application & integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
- Responsive to the need to foster the growth and development of persons having a full appreciation of technological creativity, innovation and the competitive edge it provides
- Provides opportunities for students to learn new and emerging skills.
- The Visual and Performing Arts are used to drive the curriculum while they still remain as discrete disciplines.
Teachers are expected to prepare lesson plans for the four Exploratory Core areas:
The four exploratory cores are essentially used to provide more in-dept learning opportunities which examine problem(s) from multiple perspectives. These areas are used to promote critical thinking skills and decision making skills in an intra-disciplinary and/or trans-disciplinary context.
The plans should convey an integrated teaching approach which includes subject/learning categories such as: Enrichment, Problem/Work-Based Learning and creative expression.
Evidence Based Assessment
The NSC requires learners to demonstrate/show evidence of their learning. This may include creating a product at the end of a teaching/learning episode or at the end of a unit of instruction. In this regard the learner can demonstrate, their competence – knowledge, skill and attitude.
The National Standards Curriculum should be seen as evidence-based. In addition to knowledge, it also places emphasis on the development of higher order thinking skills to ensure that Jamaican children are prepared for success in the 21st Century global marketplace.
This conceptual design employed requires use of an Evidence Centered Design (ECD) approach for the testing and construction of items. The Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) approach is also used for defining the rigor of content and cognitive skills measured by the tests. This approach is suited to guide the development of assessments that measure the new curriculum standards. It extends evidence of what students do in a testing situation in order to make statements about what they may know and can do in the real world.