Due to the announcement of remote learning to continue through the end of this semester for District 99, final exams will look different than previously administered. While most teachers aren’t having a typical final exam, they are still having some form of assessment of students’ learning.
Instead of a regular final exam worth 20% of students’ grades, a number of teachers are choosing to give a final assessment of learning that counts as a regular test grade. AP Biology teacher Jennifer Wolf is following this trend and explains how she believes giving a final test of learning is important to keep AP students prepared.
“I’m giving comprehensive tests that will cover all the material taught over the course of the semester, but they will not be counted as 20% of the semester grade; rather they will just be large tests. The AP students need the experience of having a high stakes, comprehensive test that is timed to give them some idea as to what to expect when they sit for the AP exam in May,” Wolf said.
Similar to Wolf, English Teacher Dr. Kiersten Thompson is not giving a typical final exam worth 20% of students’ grades. Thompson elaborates on how she believes that giving a final exam would cause unnecessary stress.
“To me, [a final exam is] overwhelming. A unit test will be less daunting for students. The recency of the material and the practice of the skills will hopefully make students more successful on the assessment. I want my students to feel challenged and supported without feeling overwhelmed,” Thompson said.
In agreement with Thompson, senior Autumn Bretwisch comments on how giving a regular final exam would be difficult for students in the remote learning environment.
“I feel as though taking formal final exams would be very difficult to do after this semester of remote learning. As many students have struggled more than usual with their course loads as it is, I think it would be very complicated and difficult for students to do their best on their final exams like we normally would,” Bretwisch said.
With thoughts similar to Bretwisch, senior Kendall Swider speaks on how she feels less prepared for her final exams than she normally would due to lack of in-person learning.
“I am nervous for finals because learning in a remote manner is much harder. I feel like I am usually very prepared for finals and don’t need to study too much, however, because we aren’t in-person this year, I don’t think I am well-prepared,” Swider said.
Due to the circumstances of the pandemic forcing teachers to make changes to their normal class direction, many teachers’ course material has also changed. Social studies teacher Derek Hoovel speaks on how the Global Connections classes agreed to eliminate the final exam completely due to how their course material has changed.
“In such a unique teaching environment as we have had it seemed to make more sense to think outside the box and evaluate the semester in a way that better lined up with the way we have been attempting to teach our classes. We have been much more thematic this semester looking at big ideas as opposed to concrete textbook facts and data. A subjective approach made more sense than a 50 question multiple choice test,” Hoovel said.
Unlike in previous years, the final week of the semester will not follow the final exam schedule. Final exam week will continue with the fully remote learning block schedule running odd periods on both Tuesday and Thursday and even periods on both Wednesday and Friday.