Editorial: Courses at the same level should have uniform curriculum

Our position: Teachers who teach the same class should follow the same curriculum and have the same homework and retake policies in order to give all students the same experience.

As the school year progresses, students may be surprised to learn that despite taking a course at the same level as their friends, they may be participating in completely different activities in class. Some teachers’ procedures and policies in class, like those on tests or retakes, also differ greatly. This doesn’t just hinder students trying to study with their friends; these discrepancies in curriculum and policy act as a major disadvantage, giving students under stricter policies fewer opportunities to improve their grade.

To level the playing field, courses at the same level should follow the same set of curriculum and adhere to the same policies regarding tests, retakes and other assessments.

Course levels (prep, accel and honors) give students the opportunity to learn in an environment that best suits their needs and abilities. Regardless of whatever level and class students take, they should all get the same experience, one that will best supply them with the skills needed to have success in the class. If students sign up for the same course, the fairest way to administer their education is to give them the same work, tests and class activities. But some teachers with the same class have entirely different class activities compared to their colleagues.

More troubling are the policies regarding homework and test retakes. While some teachers grant a limitless number of test retakes or homework make-up opportunities, some don’t allow any at all or only permit one retake per semester. Students who have teachers with the latter policy are at a disadvantage because they miss out on the same opportunities their peers have to improve their grades. These are some big problems in the way curriculum is delivered, but there are ways to fix these systemic issues.

Prior to and during the start of a semester, all teachers teaching the same level of a course should get together and discuss the major assignments and learning objectives, when they are to be assigned and what the process for redoing these assignments will be. This way, all students at the same course level will have the same classroom experiences and the most opportunities to learn the content. It’s important to have teachers with different teaching styles and ideas about their subject, but when some kids are reading novels for class, while others are writing essays in what is supposed to be the same course, the students are getting completely different material in completely different ways. And teaching styles should never impair a student’s ability to learn the curriculum and earn the best possible grade.