Curriculum management is a large undertaking for school districts. Subjects each have their own manuals and each course has specific criteria to be met. Many districts could fill bookcases with their curriculum guides. But in order to find, compare or analyze curriculum, a team of educators would have to dust off the manuals and go through each handbook individually.
Short on manpower and wanting to find a more efficient way to organize curriculum, David Miller, Coordinator for Assessment & Library Services in the Pattonville (MO) School District, began looking for alternatives to this rusty, dusty routine.
David Miller, Coordinator for Assessment & Library Services
“We looked at alignment tools and other curriculum mapping products. We were expected to meet criteria given to us from the district, and also find something useful to teachers. We demoed BuildYourOwnCurriculum with support staff, teachers, secretaries and curriculum advisors before we made any decision to buy the program. They looked at it and said, ‘we can use a tool like this.’” Miller said. “We decided on BuildYourOwnCurriculum and it was the best choice we could have made.”
“We had a price range that many of the other options fell into, but we kept coming back to BuildYourOwnCurriculum and looking at it, wandering why it was so much more affordable than the others,” Miller said. “I mean, you get what you pay for, ya know? So we took a step back and said ‘do we really get all that for such an inexpensive cost to the district?’ It turned out we did!”
BuildYourOwnCurriculum is affordable. Pricing includes a one-time set-up fee and an annual subscription fee based on the size of the district. With such a reasonable cost, subscribing districts are astounded by the quality of the software and service that comes with it.
“BuildYourOwnCurriculum was head and shoulders above the other options we looked at,” said Miller. “Number one — it’s easy to use. Number two — they have a good support team who continue to deliver support to our district. And number three — it meets the needs of our teachers in the classroom; they have material available at their fingertips.”
Teachers can locate current curriculum requirements and resources, to easily update and customize their lesson plans in alignment with district standards and expectations. Administrators can gain instant access to the learning paths in each building, grade and classroom — and view this information by standards, by teaching objective and by key concept.
“The nice thing about it is that you can analyze content areas and where you have holes, compare within the district and even compare to other districts,” said Miller. “With BuildYourOwnCurriculum, we don’t have to constantly reinvent the wheel, which saves us so much time and energy.”
At Pattonville, the implementation of BuildYourOwnCurriculum has given teachers and administrators an opportunity to spend more time focusing on the needs of students and their learning progress. Miller credits the flexible reporting features of BuildYourOwnCurriculum that gets teachers the reports they need, when they need them. This is just one factor of the software that Miller believes saves time and energy.
“With BuildYourOwnCurriculum, we don’t have to make a lot of changes — it fits what we do,” Miller said. “I’d have to say that the function that is most useful for our district is the ease of use. Teachers can log in and know exactly what to do, they don’t waste a lot of time, and we don’t need to do a lot of professional development. It’s also great because when we have subs, they can just pick up right where the class left off.”
BuildYourOwnCurriculum was specifically designed by educators to meet the needs of students, parents, administrators and teachers. Students can look at the standards they’re expected to learn and master, see class activities and retrieve the resources they’ll need to complete their work. Parents have the opportunity to view curriculum, assignments and standards from home, work or library — anywhere they can access the internet.
Miller, a parent of two school-age children, finds this last feature especially important.
“Parents can look at the curriculum online and know what their kids are learning each week,” Miller said. “This gives parents something to talk about with their kids and they can help with practical application. For example, if the kids are learning about World War II in history class, they can talk about how Grandpa is a World War II veteran and tie it all together.”
The publishers of BuildYourOwnCurriculum, School Software Group, initially concentrated their energies in the Midwest, working in partnership with regional school districts to answer the need for hard-working solutions and rapid service response. Through its dealer network, School Software Group has expanded its efforts nationwide. Currently School Software Group’s solutions are at work in over 200 districts throughout the United States. Every product is based on close, onsite collaboration with educators.