Select staff transition toward lower-impact final exams


Mira Singh (11) diligently works on homework for a social studies class.

This year, teachers at VHHS are reevaluating what final exams look like. Teachers can change the format of the test and the percent of a student’s grade it is worth.

Mr. Korney, the Math Department Supervisor, suspects that this transition was sparked by the rumblings of change at the collegiate level. He says that at some colleges, certain courses are moving towards culminating projects, summative papers or presentations, instead of traditional written exams.

He also mentioned that there are colleges that are planning to continue final exams as they are right now. 

Because of this, not every class at VHHS will deviate from the traditional 20 percent written exam. Only a handful of teachers have announced they will be changing their final exams.

In the English Department, some teachers have decided to make the final exam 10 percent instead of 20 percent. Ms. Nieves, the English Department Supervisor, said as long as the entire team of teachers from one course can agree on something, she will allow them to make the change. 

In the Social Studies Department, all Government classes are lowering the final exam percentage. One of the Government teachers in favor of the change was Mr. Erickson. He said it was unfair to students to present them with a test that could negate all of their hard work over the semester. 

Ms. Nieves said trying to capture something that is not content driven is difficult, which is why it makes more sense for classes in the English Department to make these changes. However, STEM classes are heavily content-based, so her reasoning wouldn’t apply to them.

Mr. Prosise, the Science Department Supervisor, said they have always been consistent with their grading, so their exams will reflect that. The Science Department intends to keep their final exams at 20 percent because they saw no reason to make it any less.

 Mr. Erickson said that he didn’t get a sense of any sort of negative feedback from his students when he told them he was changing from 20 percent to 10 percent.

Hailey Jin, a junior at VHHS, said she’ll probably end up studying a lot less because she knows the exam doesn’t count as much. Jin is one of the students in AP Lang, which had the exam change from 20 to 10 percent. 

Mr. Korney, the Math Department Supervisor said while not all courses will decide on the same thing, it is important for everyone to understand that teachers will make the choice best for their students. 

“[Administrators] want to empower the teachers to figure out the best way… to assess the students learning over the course of a semester,” Mr. Korney said.