Eye of the Editors: Importance of standardized curriculum

Opinion: Diamond Bar High School should standardize curriculum and the grading scale but give teachers the choice of how to teach their classes.

Throughout high school, Diamond Bar High School students cannot help but notice the disparities between advanced math and English classes, mainly that the former has a unified curriculum while the latter has an individualized one. 

In order to make learning more efficient, DBHS should adopt a more standardized curriculum and grading scale for English classes while still giving teachers the flexibility to decide how to teach the lessons. 

In many math classes, tests and homework assignments are scheduled long in advance for all periods and instructors of the subject. In contrast, assignments, readings, essays and tests in English classes vary according to each teacher. Students spend more or less time depending on how many assignments and tests a teacher gives. 

Because of these differences, students try to switch teachers based on previous experiences or word-of-mouth impressions on a certain teacher’s workload and grading leniency. Every year, GLCs receive requests to change teachers, and they explicitly state that they cannot make those changes in the annual meetings with students. 

Providing the same tests, books and assignments for students would help bridge the difference in grading. Of course, there are some assignments that cannot be purely objective, such as essays. However, students will be expected to know the same material and be tested on the same things. Though the improvement may be small, grades will become more standardized. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that teachers will abandon  their teaching style or need to restructure their entire lesson plans. Though they would be following a set curriculum, teachers should be able to express their individuality by deciding how they will present the information to the class.

 For example, one teacher may choose to focus on Ralph Waldo Emerson and another on Walt Whitman, while still covering the topic of Transcendentalism. In addition, there will still be room for more creative assignments, such as videos, that teachers can assign occasionally. 

Standardizing the curriculum and timeline of lessons will also benefit students in AP classes because teachers will steadily cover all necessary material in time for the AP test. The level of preparation will also be similar no matter what teacher a student gets. 

The benefits are not only in AP classes. All classes will move along at the same pace, meaning that students can ask other students about a specific topic and get an answer from any student. In addition, students can approach any teacher to ask for help, and generally, the information will apply to any test. 

However, this may make cheating more prevalent and easier. Since tests and homework assignments will be on the same day, students will find it easier to exchange answers. But this does not mean that the school should disregard the positive sides of a standardized curriculum. This change may even be a chance to reassess the severity of the cheating problem at DBHS and implement methods to prevent cheating in all classes, like creating different versions of tests and putting up phones in slots at the front of the classroom. 

Standardizing the curriculum has its pros and cons. However, because students will benefit much more from a standardized curriculum, DBHS should consider moving toward making classes more similar.