Standardization of course curriculum

From the start of my freshman year, I’ve heard complaints about how certain teachers are better than others and how there are different standards for each classroom, despite my expectation that all the classes in one course are supposed to be the same. Since then, I’ve learned that they have distinct methods of teaching and varied levels of difficulty for tests. Although students may be taking the same course, the way they learn the materials, and even the materials themselves, often vary greatly, depending on the teachers they have. These problems pose a threat to fairness in classrooms.

The solution to this threat is the standardization of courses: the same workload, quality of instruction and exams. When teachers of the same course establish one set of curriculum for all these classes, they can collaborate by making lesson plans together and communicating with each other. By effectively combining the best ideas of each teacher, students receive a strengthened curriculum with the same tests and homework, as well as a fair classroom environment. In fact, this practice is already partially employed by some instructors in the math department, in which the one set of homework is assigned to all and at the same pace. Already, the positive effects of such a system are evident; students are not simply limited to the select group of people in their class for help because they can even work with those who have different teachers.

The initial issue that standardization tackles is a passive attitude toward classes. Upon hearing that they have gotten a teacher with a negative reputation, students stop putting effort in the class, making excuses that the teacher is “too hard,” “doesn’t teach,” or “too strict.” This type of mentality promotes an unhealthy learning environment because variations among teachers act as obstructions and excuses in student paths to higher learning. Standardization can, instead, eliminate this mindset so that all may start with equal opportunities to perform to the best of their capabilities.

The overall learning experience is, perhaps, most greatly affected by the material covered and the pacing of the class. Some teachers skip topics whereas others may elaborate on them, resulting in different levels of knowledge among classrooms. The discrepancies can increase when taking into account how slowly or quickly this information is taught, especially when teachers do not finish lecturing the course by the end of the year. Ultimately, the students may suffer from inadequate preparation for standardized tests such as AP and IB exams.

When variations exist, students often receive grades that they don’t deserve (lower and higher). This becomes a serious problem when college admissions officers are unable to look at the effort that they put in a class, how much work the teacher assigns or how hard some tests are. Instead, they see only the A’s, B’s or C’s, without seeing the context surrounding the grade. With standardization of courses, efforts a student puts in can yield a grade that accurately reflects that.

Fairness among classes must always come first to support both a healthy learning environment and an accurate reflection of student efforts. Through teachers’ collaborative agreement on a set curriculum, students are given a positive learning experience free of the worries of whether they got the “better” teacher or not.

By Emily Chen, Staff writer

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