Since June is around the corner, I wanted to write to give you important information around our final assessment period. I have attached a color coded schedule for you to read, but that is likely most useful for the students to see. I have worked with other staff members to compile some key questions and answers we thought would be most useful to you to make sure you understand how this is working.
Here are the reasons we’re altering our final assessments.
Originally, we ran into a problem with the potential for our exams to directly conflict with the state’s Science MCAS dates. This represented a technical challenge we could have solved a number of different ways, but the leadership team and I felt it also represented an opportunity to make an adaptive change.
- We wanted to make school days in June more meaningful by making more of them count directly towards the final.
- We wanted to reduce the intensity of the finals period by extending it from 3 ½ days to 11 ½ days.
- We wanted all our classes to have the opportunity to have a meaningful close to their courses and not just our major disciplines.
- We wanted disciplines to be able to do more than give pencil and paper exams if they felt other performance assessments would be just as valuable and maybe even more relevant.
- We wanted to give students more opportunity for reflection, more opportunity to have voice and choice in how they show what they know.
- We wanted students and teachers to have more opportunity to create meaning at the end of their courses.
To these ends, teachers are doing one of three things with exams (for specifics, teachers will communicate with their students directly).
- Some courses will give a traditional pen and paper exam. They will be giving that graded exam back to students on the last day and have time for reflection.
- Some courses will give a combination of a project and a test.
- Other courses will be doing straight projects. The projects are varied and complex so they will look different in different courses.
At the end of the assessment period, students and teachers will be asked to take a survey on their experience. That data will be used by the Administrative Team at the High School to potentially improve the finals structure for the future. I will be talking about this year’s final assessment period at the May 4th Principal’s coffee in the faculty dining room at 9 a.m.
Final Assessment Structure
The High School Administrative Team determined that each color block would have 7 hours of class time dedicated to their final assessment/experience. Essentially this is the same as the last full 7 day cycle, plus our traditional 2 hour final exam block. A couple of the color blocks have an extra hour. The first 5 hours are single blocks and the last 2 hours are a double block for every color. The double block provides an extended meeting time for students to wrap up their final assessments/experiences and share their work in some cases via presentations, performances, gallery walks, etc. The double block also protects students from having 5 “final” presentations, projects, reflections, etc. all due on the last day of school.
Exams are consistent by Courses
Teacher teams have worked extremely hard this year to coordinate final experiences by course. All sections of the same course will be giving consistent final experiences.
What is different about the Math Exams?
Mathematics exams themselves will not be different. They are summative pencil and paper exams. They will be given in two pieces over the course of three days between June 11th and June 13th. What has changed is that students will get their graded exams back during the two hour block at the end of the final’s period. Teachers will go over the exams with them and students will have a chance to reflect on what they learned.
Homework Expectations during the Final Assessment Period
Teachers created this system with the directive that students should not have more than 10 minutes of homework/outside of class work per night, per class. The intention is that the assessment should be able to be created almost solely within the allotted in class time. Studying for the Math exam would represent the exception to this.
Attendance during Science MCAS
On the mornings of June 6th and June 7th, students taking Science MCAS must report to school on time to take their MCAS tests. Other students will be able to access their teachers during this time. We describe this as intervention time on the schedule as it allows students other than those taking MCAS, to access their teachers for extra help.
Can students move exams to another day? why not?
No. Students must complete the final assessment/experience WITH THEIR OWN teacher and classmates. Students are sharing in this experience with their assigned class and it would be disruptive to the dynamic to try and join another class for the final project, presentation, gallery walk, etc.
A normal student absence due to illness, an appointment, etc. during the Final Assessment Period means the student must communicate with their teacher and they will be expected to make that work up by Wednesday, June 20th. It is essential that students be in school until the end of the year. If this causes a challenge for an individual family, they should contact their Assistant Principal as soon as possible.
All our student support services will be available for all our students throughout the assessment period. Any services your student receives during the school year will be the same during the assessment period.
Who do I ask if I have questions?
Specific questions about the assessments themselves should go to the teachers.
Questions about attendance should go to the house Assistant Principal.