Arlene Ackerman: 2008-2011
While retaining the core curriculum in most cases, Ackerman made changes in about 100 of the District’s lowest-performing schools, dubbed “Empowerment Schools.” These schools were to use a highly scripted curriculum known as “Corrective Reading” and “Corrective Math,” developed by the McGraw-Hill company. The new reading curriculum replaced the “balanced literacy” approach, sparking criticism due to its prescriptive nature and its focus on remedial skills. Ackerman credited the approach with improved test scores.
2012 and beyond
The District eliminated the requirement to use the scripted model soon after Ackerman’s departure, saying that teachers should have more latitude to determine how best to bring students up to state standards. Details so far are scarce, but the next superintendent is expected to continue this trend of returning some instructional autonomy to schools. The core curriculum is also undergoing revision to bring it into line with the new Common Core State Standards.