November 22, 2017

Final exam changes include more assessment options, flexibility in scheduling

Max Tracey ’19, Web Editor-in-Chief

The first month of this year at the high school has been filled with rumors, anticipation, and confusion among students and faculty as to how the school will execute final exams. Today, the high school received a significant update from Principal Dr. Jamie Chisum on how the administration is handling final exams this year.

In an email to families, Chisum said there will still be final assessments to end courses this year.  As in the past, these assessments will be worth 16 percent of the final grade, but the administration will give departments and courses the choice to hold a “traditional exam, an alternative assessment, or combinations of the two,” according to the email.

“Having spent over 25 years in high schools, I can say, with confidence, that both students and faculty often describe the final exam period as a joyless and disconnected experience. What do students say when I ask them how finals went?  Almost universally they respond, ‘I’m just glad they’re over,’” Chisum said in the email.

Instead, the school will strive to create more reflective and connected final experiences for students. Chisum writes, “And, the research is overwhelmingly clear, [students] thrive and are engaged when we allow them some choices in how they can show what they know and understand.”, according to the email.

Teachers who opt to give a traditional exam will now give the exams back to the students with the opportunity for “reflective feedback”. This will be an important step forward to solve the issue of students not even seeing their exams after taking them at the year’s end, according to Chisum.

One factor driving change this year was that the freshmen science MCAS tests had been scheduled to fall on consecutive or the same days as some final exams, depending on snow days.

The administration is still working on the specific schedule, which they promised will protect students from having too many assessments at one time this spring. They plan on extending the exam period to allow for more time for some disciplines to do other longer types of assessments or experiences. As usual, hey will release that schedule well before the end of the year.

 

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