Sunday, May 11, 2008

Early Exams? To grant or not to grant?

One of the joys of May besides the full array of culminating events that dot our calendars is the incessant parade of families requesting early exams for various reasons. There are the families who seem to be illiterate when reading calendars. Or then again there is the family who just couldn't resist the off peak rental on some chalet in Aspen. Why the school is expected to cater to these needs I don't really understand. I don't think I ever will. My family didn't operate that way.

But how do we walk the line between customer service and enforcing the rules? Our leadership team was debating adding a policy that would allow students to make them up after exams with a monetary cost per exam. Our superintendent shot down the whole concept as catering to sloth so we dropped it. I have much respect for him and philosophically agree but I can't drop the idea that it seems schools must be trying to find some type of middle ground. Please fill out the survey below so we can see what the general trends are.

I can see the wisdom of both points of view. The oh so sad to bad crowd that just awards zeroes does protect the integrity of the exam and its importance. The half way crowd with fines for early exams seems to avoid the dreaded zero while still allowing for the family who feels the need to act special.

One issue also is who is responsible for the decision. Often times students are at the mercy of decisions made by parents who may or may not care as much about exams as their children. I am sure we all practice mercy in terms of extreme circumstances.

Click below to take the survey. Results will be shared in next week's post.



Claire Thompson said...

I didn't fill out the survey because I teach at a distributed learning school where the students are all working on their own time lines--they take their tests when they are ready. However, I do have a few thoughts on early exams.

At the previous high school where I taught the policy was to allow students who could not write the exam at the prescribed time to write it after the other students had written. The argument being that one student writing early could pass on test info to two friends, who could tell two friends... Of course if you have different versions of the final this is not a problem. This policy also nixed the plans of those who just wanted to start their summer early.

Despite my earlier disclaimer about working at a distributed learning school, my students in grades 10, 11 and 12 do have to write province wide (I live in Canada) exams as part of their graduation program. The times that students can write these exams is very rigid. All grade 10 math students will write their provincial exam from 9am to 11:30am on June 23rd. If they are not able to make that time they can write at the next sitting, which is in August. Depending on the school district there will be a fee for the summer sitting. Their course mark is also withheld until they write the exam.

In my experience, students who have to write these provincial exams do ensure that they are there to write the exam at the prescribed time. This is in part because they are informed and constantly reminded about the exam policy.

Just some food for thought.

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