Courses can choose alternative forms of assessment over traditional final exams – The Lancer Feed

Courses can choose alternative forms of assessment over traditional final exams – The Lancer Feed

While final exams typically cast a frightening shadow on the average high school experience, the Rockwood School District is now in its second year replacing a traditional final exam for each course with more flexible ways for teachers to determine whether students have mastered the course or not. contents.

Although cumulative exams equivalent to final exams can still be administered by teachers, Infinite Campus no longer allows teachers to submit a specific final assessment worth 20% of the student’s grade.

The choice of the type of assessment to be given to the students in each course is not determined district-wide by those who teach these classes. This decision was made after a subcommittee of the Rockwood Learning Council examined the district’s exam policy and also examined what other colleges and universities were doing to assess student learning.

They found that a traditional paper and pencil type of heavily weighted exam was becoming a saga just most places and was replaced with more course-appropriate assessments like portfolios or projects. This group’s work resulted in a change from the original wording of Rockwood’s final exam policies to an updated wording of: “Semester grades should reflect student achievement through multiple methods of assessing the essential course results.”

Rockwood’s Director of Research Evaluation and Evaluation, Glenn Hancock, said: “Some courses, such as a maths course, may have a comprehensive exam that puts the parts you learned through your course together. Whereas another course, such as Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS), may not need the same type of comprehensive exam, they may be asked to prepare a meal, plan and cook a meal, or do something more practical that is more than just a traditional sitting, written exam. “that have been held in the past. They may find it more beneficial because they are able to access students and get feedback on what they are able to produce now through the last exercise, project or event.”

Many factors were taken into account when making the decision to eliminate traditional final exams for each course.

“With groups of teachers, we started looking at the 20% that is a big part of a grade for one exam and how we can gather evidence throughout the year to know where the students are and get feedback. We also discussed , that students took six to seven final exams in the three days, which is sometimes a heavy burden, and if it really helps students learn more when we try to cram six to seven exams in three days, ”Hancock said.

This means that different courses will assess students’ mastery in different ways. For example, social studies teacher Amy Merriott teaches AP Human Geography, AP World History and Honors United States History, all of which will use different forms of a final assessment.

“In AP World, since we are preparing [students] for a big exam, we think it’s worth it for them to take a final, but the last one will only be multiple choice, because we have given them so much to write [recently] and it will only go in as yet another test. In American history, it can be a multiple-choice finale, it can also be a project or something more practical. In that class, their final exam or project can replace their lowest test score. In AP Human Geography, they just took a big culture test and wrote a lot, so I think I just want to show a movie. I know it does not sound like anything, but the movie that I show is so connected to so many themes [in the curriculum]. I do a lot with that film to get them to pull out a lot of themes so it’s not a blowout situation, ”Merriott said.

While the final exams of the semester are not weighted the same as the final exams were before, the students consider cumulative tests to be very similar to the finals as it requires the same amount of study and still affects the semester grade.

“To some extent, it makes sense, but I can also see that they are changing the way it is classified, but it does not remove much of the stress,” said fellow student Sarah Ebenezer. “Especially when the semester is weird and has all the finals, or last week, after the winter break, you forget everything, so you have to work harder than you first have to to remember everything.”

With a similar feeling, sophomore Katherine Limburg is currently taking AP World History and feels more pressure with the cumulative test because of it.

“Especially having an AP class where it feels like it’s a lot more stressful, it feels like more pressure on you,” Limburg said.

In the FACS department, however, the assessments look a little different.

FACS teacher Leah Obenhaus said: “As a department, we feel that final assessments are important in multi-level courses. That way, teachers know that students are ready to move on to more advanced levels and have retained the information that will Most of our classes in the FACS department have either a final project, final exam, or both. As students take higher levels of classes, they may even have both a final project and a final exam, depending on the course. ”

For example, Child Development I and Food Fundamentals and scheduled to take a traditional final exam, while Child Development II students will write a formal lesson plan and teach [Lafayette’s] on-site kindergarten ‘and Family Relations are completing a’ three-part final project on their family and history ‘, according to FACS teacher Lauren Arnet.

For classes in the Business Department, with the exception of Personal Economics, most final assessments are based on projects.

“It’s up to the instructor about the best way to assess the main results of the course. Most of the classes will end with a final project that will test the students on the skills they have learned throughout the course,” said Business Department Chairman Scott Beaver .

While testing can be stressful, senior Merrick Zheng said he feels teachers do their best to benefit their students.

“I feel that some teachers are accommodating to what I know [math teacher Kelly] Loeffler replaces your lowest test grade with your final grade, so I feel like the teachers are adapting to that policy, even though I think they understand that the students are plugging into these exams and trying to help us a little bit. Honestly, as a student you would not be happy, but it is understandable why they give us exams, ”said Zheng.

Still, concerns about how final semester tests will affect semester grades are as prevalent as they were in the past.

“I’m nervous about a lot of the finals because I have good grades in all my classes, but if I do not do well in the finals, it’s my final grade, and that [still] can be brought down, said sophomore Lauren Baca.

Rockwood would like to highlight the consistency of exams across the district so that all students in certain courses will take a very similarly structured final exam at all four high schools

“The content of the exam can vary, the teacher can use different problems, just like ACT does. We want it to make sense that no matter what the students learn, they have a very similar way of showing and showing evidence of what they have learned, ”said Hancock. “We have a curriculum revision process, which takes place every five to six years for each course, and as we go through that process. [final exams] will be part of that conversation. ”

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