Book Review

Deciding What to Teach and Test: Developing, Aligning, and Auditing the Curriculum

Reviewed by Audie Waltmon

Associate Superintendent, Castleberry Independent
School District, Fort Worth, Texas


The debate over high-stakes testing has become almost moot for those of us in education who must use assessments as an accountability tool for our school systems and, in some cases, personal accountability.

Deciding What to Teach and Test: Developing, Aligning and Auditing the Curriculum provides district and campus leaders with a guide for addressing the high-stakes assessment issue. Fenwick English, father of a curriculum audit process for schools, provides a simple answer here for meeting accountability requirements: alignment. The alignment process ensures the written, taught and tested curriculums are the same.

This book gives practitioners a template for developing a curriculum whose purpose is to focus and connect the work of teachers in the system. English gives practical approaches to curriculum development and alignment.

Alignment, English says, is much more than just teaching to the test. It means being fair to all concerned--students (knowing what skill is expected), teachers (knowing on what criteria they might be evaluated) and systems (knowing to what standard it will be held). As he states at the outset, "The system itself is the problem."

Along with an earlier work, Curriculum Alignment: A Facilitator’s Guide to Deciding What to Teach and Test, Fenwick’s book can serve as the basis of staff development activities.

(by Fenwick W. English, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif. 1999, 144 pp., $21.95 softcover)