Exam week is the one thing that every student dreads. The only reprieve from these tests is the opportunity to be exempt, but students can only be exempt from their second semester exams; first semester exams are not included in the current exemption policy.
“The purpose of exams is to test long range knowledge so that it’s not just kids memorizing things for a test and then forgetting it, it’s trying to see what you retain,” said Director of Curriculum Dan Rosenbaum.
Since 1994, students could become exempt from their second semester exams if they had a 93% average over the course of their class. Prior to 1994, exemptions only applied to seniors. The possibility of students being exempt from their first semester classes hasn’t been discussed among department chairs since the change was made 25 years ago.
There are mixed feelings on whether or not students who take semester classes should have the opportunity to be exempt from those classes in the first semester. English teacher and football coach Jeff Mulvey said, “I think it’s nice to have an opportunity to show what you learned. I just wish there was a way that [exams] were less stressful. Students have tests that are more pressing and more urgent and they dedicate more energy to them, so they don’t do as well on classes they have had A’s in all semester.
On the other side, Theology teacher John Norman said, “I do like the fact that they are taking the exams because it gives me an understanding of their understanding of what we have studied over two quarters. I think it is important that out kids are accustomed to taking what we would call exams. We are trying to prepare our students to embrace and be successful in college and since most colleges use some form of testing I think we out to continue to do it.”
Rosenbaum agreed with Norman. “Some of this has to do with preparing for college because a lot of times you will take college courses and there are two grades, a midterm and a final. We want to make sure that they get the learning experience of taking a cumulative final. That’s why at the semester everybody goes ahead and takes it,” Rosenbaum said.
The chance that students can be exempt from semester classes gives the students motivation to perform consistently at their best. Rosenbaum said he is open to all suggestions concerning adding first semester classes to the exam exemption policy, he said he would “need a pretty compelling reason at this point to say yes.”
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