TOWNSEND — Just because a class taught by two different teachers has the same name, doesn’t mean it’s the same class.
Depending on who is teaching the class, different lessons could be taught, or teachers could have different expectations of students.
The North Middlesex Regional High School’s update to syllabus expectations for next year is a major step in standardizing classes.
“We want the same syllabus to be used for a class no matter who’s teaching it,” said English Department Chairman Barbara Shaw at Monday night’s School Committee meeting.
Shaw said that classes with different teachers could be “totally different experiences,” which result in students missing some opportunities based on their class placement.
By standardizing syllabi, students are more likely to have the same experiences with two different teachers.
“A syllabus is an agreement between students and a teacher,” said Shaw.
The expectation is that teachers will follow the syllabus that is given out to students.
Shaw said that the standard syllabus for classes would be especially helpful for new teachers because they would know exactly what’s expected of them.
Sample syllabi were passed out to the committee from several different departments to represent the goal for the final product: a standard syllabus form.
No matter what department the class is in, the syllabus is expected to be in the same format. The syllabus heading is first, followed by the course description, the tangible goals of the class, what materials will be used, a timeline of the main course elements, a breakdown of the grading components and a description of academic integrity.
Policies, such as what late work is accepted by a teacher, will be uniform in all classes. The grading weight of homework, 10 percent of the final grade, will be the same in all classes also.
Shaw said that a syllabus is a living document that will likely adapt and change organically by the collaboration of teachers as courses unfold. By having a standard syllabus form, every student and parent will know exactly what’s expected in each class.
They will also be available online so people can access them if they lose their hard copy.
School Committee member Sue Fitzgerald said that, as a parent, she liked the direction the syllabi were taking.
No vote was made by the School Committee on the issue, but the standardized syllabi should be in affect for next school year.