It's exam time. The end of semester one. The critical time for high school students to find out did they earn that credit they so desperately need, or will they be reserving a seat in the same class next fall.
It is a point of controversy in our district. Does the exam determine credit? Does the course itself determine credit? Is it some combination thereof? It seems with every change in the wind, the answer changes, leaving staff and students confused and frustrated.
I am torn as to my personal stance. On the one hand, if a student can pass the exam without doing any of the course work, doesn't s/he deserve credit for the class? If your exam truly measures proficiency on preset standards of learning for the class, why wouldn't you give a passing exam grade course credit? On the other hand, are there activities/projects/classroom discussions that lend themselves to proving proficiency as well? If a student opts out of all the 'experiences' in class, can they still prove mastery with one grade? And what about the student who does everything all semester, completes every assignment, completes all the readings, the projects, the papers, but fails that final? Does that student deserve credit? Is 'test anxiety' a viable excuse?
I think we need more accurate ways of proving proficiency than one test, one overwhelming, end all/be all test. Tests have their place, granted, but I think teachers need to find other ways to measure, accurately measure, student achievement. I don't want to create a utopia where everyone passes just because they show up, but I do think we can find more effective ways to show student growth.
Maybe we need to spend more time aligning our assessments we use throughout the semester to our outcome standards, and rely more on the continual process of assessing and remediating, instead of waiting for the chiming of the final semester clock.