The real difficulty of a class is often hidden – behind the teacher

The real difficulty of a class is often hidden - behind the teacher

Claire Dinshaw, Staff Writer

Each year around the time of course selection every student is forced to consider how many AP and honors courses they should take. Every year they face the same dilemma. How can they be sure that the honors course they want to take won’t take up as much of their time as their AP?

Leveled classes, in my opinion, are more than a good idea, they are a great idea. The problem is there is often an unlabeled extra level. This level hinges on one thing – the teacher.

Don’t get me wrong, often the teachers that give the toughest, most time consuming assignments end up teaching students the most, but come college application time, it would be nice to tell your top choice that the class labeled “honors” honestly felt like it was AP.

John Dodig, the Staples High School principal, said that most departments try to keep the midterms and finals 70 to 80 percent the same. Additionally, departments hold what are called “course alike” meetings. During these meetings “teachers of the same course and level share assignments and grading practices” Dodig said in an email.

Lenny Klein, a math teacher at Staples, said that these meetings are incredibly helpful to ensure course consistency. Klein feels that two classes of the same kind that are taught by different teachers tend to be 75 percent the same.

This is by no means a low number, however, that 25 percent can make a different. Even the small inequalities from class-to-class difficulty can be very frustrating. In a survey sent out to the Staples student body 81 percent of respondents said they felt that class difficulty is partially determined by the teacher, and 76 percent felt that this was unfair.

Class grades are sent to colleges and extracurricular programs. It is incredibly important that they accurately reflect the abilities of the students, and this may not be possible if two teachers’ classes are run in completely different ways.

Students are not asking for all classes to be created equal. But we would appreciate it if two teachers at least assigned the same amount of homework or gave tests with similar frequency.