An AP Calculus BC test asks students to answer a variety of free response questions. Teachers at Hayes may choose to give semester assessments like this, or they can get creative with their assessments. (Noah Sparkman)
An AP Calculus BC test asks students to answer a variety of free response questions. Teachers at Hayes may choose to give semester assessments like this, or they can get creative with their assessments.

Noah Sparkman

Hayes postpones the return of midterm & final exams

November 19, 2021

After being without exams for a year and a half, administrators at Hayes have decided that the typical half-day exam schedule will not make a re-appearance this year.
This decision was made with students’ mental health in mind, as administration decided they were simply not ready to add the pressure of exams back into the schedule.
“We felt with the pressure that the students are under, to add back semester and final exams to an already stressful situation would be piling on,” principal Ric Stranges said.
However, Hayes is still giving teachers a bit of leeway. If they choose to, teachers can give their students an assessment over the semester’s content.
While there is not a general consensus on the decision, many teachers agree that students may not be ready to take exams again.
“I don’t think that students are properly preparing for exams, tests, or any sort of assessments,” English teacher Michelle Howes said. “I don’t even think students are ready to be taking assessments in the regular classroom.”
This ideal is not unrecognized in the student body, either.
“As a senior, since we’ve done it before, I definitely feel like we can do it again,” senior Ethan Bush said. “But I don’t know. With freshmen and sophomores coming in after the Covid year, I don’t know how it will affect them.”
One of the more prevalent ideas that has arisen from the change has been the idea that perhaps Hayes should not ever go back to that traditional exam model.
With the spotlight on teachers to determine if and how they wish to assess their students this semester, the hope among many is that it gives them room to experiment.
“If teachers feel like they can find some alternative ways to see how students learn, that’s great,” Stranges said. “If they want to do a project-based learning opportunity for students, great. If they want to do a portfolio to show what they learned, great.”
Hayes is looking toward the future in terms of classroom standards. There are classes already being taught at the school using priority-based standards, and there are plans to expand that number in the near future.
“We have five Physical Science and five World Studies classes[using priority standards],” Stranges said. “There are no failures, and every student is able to demonstrate mastery at a D-level. Many are doing much better.”
With the school already moving away from the typical assessment model in the normal classroom, it stands to reason that the traditional model is outdated for exams.
“To throw 20% of a grade on one sitting is, I don’t think, an equitable way of grading,” Stranges said. “What if your little sister kept you up all night, and we judged you on that one day? Why wouldn’t we look at your learning in a different way?”
For years, the model’s saving grace was that it prepared students for college exams. Now, though, some are unsure if even that is necessary.
“If education is changing, I would think college would be too,” Howes said.
With a plethora of new learning opportunities available to students, many teachers believe that the assessment opportunities should adapt to suit the course a student has chosen.
“We have this great Career Center, and the military and many other opportunities for students,” Howes said. “[The exam schedule] is making all 1700 of us follow a model that we may not necessarily need later.”
In the end, distance from the typical exam schedule is just the latest in a long string of developments for Hayes. Just like each other time in which they have been faced with adversity, the administration is looking to use the atypical nature of the situation to improve.
“Maybe the outcome will be that it’s better not to do [the typical exam schedule],” Stranges said. “We’re not sure what the outcome will be, but I’m sure we’ll be better off for it.”

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