While it is occasionally acceptable for classes of the same courses to learn material at different times, teachers should strive to equalize the classroom by introducing material at the same time.
This issue calls into question the term educational equity, a measure of achievement, fairness, and opportunity in education.
For instance, if an honors chemistry class on Dec. 16th learned about chemical bonding for the first time, but a different honors chemistry class learned chemical bonding weeks earlier. The difference in pace of teaching shows a definite unfairness between classes since the class that learned the material weeks earlier would be better prepared for the final exam since the teacher taught at a quicker pace. Furthermore, the class that learned at a slower pace, would be rushed to catch up to the other classes, which has the potential to cause confusion for the teacher.
The issue of off-pace teaching is especially common in math and science courses. A possible reason for this is that these two subjects leave little room for interpretation. Either you understand the material or you don’t. This is a possible explanation for why teachers might sometimes fall behind other teachers since they will have to adjust to their students.
According to the Corbin Times Tribune, a high school in Franklin, Kentucky saw a rapid improvement in student’s grades when they introduced a minor tweak in the teaching style format.
The article states that before the school year, each department would meet to discuss when they were going to teach each unit. They called it the “same page” teaching system. This meant that all students learned the same material at the exact same time as their peers in other classes. Because of this, students reported it was easier to converse with their friends about the class since everyone was at the same pace.
Also, the average ACT composite score prior to this new system was 21. With the addition of the before school meetings, the average score increased to 23. While that might not seem significant, it is worth noting that the implementation of the “same page” teaching system did it’s job.
Some might say that keeping classes on the same page is unnecessary because they are all going to learn the same material eventually.
While that statement has some validity, we cannot ignore those students who are disadvantaged by off-pace teaching. If teachers follow a set plan for the units, then there will be more clarity for students regarding class pace and material.
A viable solution for this is the departments run before school meetings similar to those of Franklin High School. There, teachers would lay out a plan for each unit to be taught in a span of 2-4 weeks. After each unit, they would reconvene to discuss how smoothly that unit ran and how quickly their students grasped the material. This way, when it is time for final exams, students are more prepared than ever.