Finals cancelled; teachers revise plans

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Without formal finals this semester, teachers have more freedom in how they choose to assess their students’ growth and learning.

Caroline Sun, Digital Editor-in-Chief

After a fall of e-learning, hybrid learning, and transitions between the two, school administrators decided in November to cancel traditional final exams and use the scheduled exam days (January 12-14) for academic intervention. Although finals are canceled, teachers have been encouraged to assign other summatives for end of semester comprehension. Here’s what a few teachers have planned:

Laura Cohen, bio teacher: For my AP bio classes, finals are going to look pretty similar to the normal test format because they do still need that AP practice, though it may not be a full length-test. For my freshmen in bio, I think we’re just planning on using those three finals dates as normal instructional dates, because with everything that’s going on, we’ve already had to slow our teaching down, so those extra days will give us the time to teach the core of the curriculum. Though the final is usually a chance for bio students to connect all the content and show growth, we still have plenty of unit exams where they can show their knowledge, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Catherine Norberg, French teacher: “I think [not having traditional finals]  is going to give me the opportunity to go a little bit more in-depth with our curriculum. So I plan to extend the time [of learning] a little more, and then give a summative – probably a writing summative – that I usually give before finals, and that will demonstrate the growth of my student’s French proficiency.”

Thomas Skobel, English teacher: “Honestly, [I don’t see] that much value in our English finals, because I think skills are better assessed through the writing, short answer tests, and the discussions. So without finals, we now have an opportunity to spend more time and go deeper into the research paper that we do in December-January, using that time to conference with folks about their research essays, which I think is going to be more valuable to me and the students in the long run versus a final that superficially tests for wrong or right.”

Brett Stuart, business teacher: “What I’m thinking [for my accounting classes] is that we’ll do some cumulative review when we come back from winter break so that students can regroup and review and bring everything together, almost like a final project. My other classes will probably do the same project-based stuff, [and I think] it will be nice because not only will students’ grades be based on what they’ve done the whole semester, but teachers, myself included, will be forced to think more, to do something more beneficial for the students that kind of shows everything they’ve learned throughout the semester.”

Kimberly Ferraro, social studies teacher: “[For my AP Human Geography students], the final is always about practice, mirroring the day of the actual AP test so that it’s as close as possible. This year, we are still kind of debating what we’re doing for finals, but for AP Human Geography, we definitely are going to be giving them some practice multiple-choice, [and for US history], we try to mix it up a bit, like with a video project, just so they have the opportunity to excel and put forth their best possible work.”

Justine Repplinger, math teacher: “[Our department head] has given us some ideas about what to do [to replace the traditional final], but the hard part is that all us math teachers have to agree on what to do. I like the cumulative test where it’s weighted the same as a regular test to demonstrate learning over time, or the portfolio idea, where I would give headings of big concepts and students would demonstrate their understanding with pictures and [maybe even short videos]. Overall, I’m just looking for a way to make sure students are building connections and seeing growth. ”