Common Bad Practice – Finals Exemptions

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Though I find it mind boggling, exempting students from finals is now more common, than not. If you are doing this, STOP. It is bad practice.  And don’t give me the “It’s a student motivator or it gets kids to come to school” excuses. That is lazy and weak.  You are better than that.

So why is this bad practice? Because at the end of the Fall Semester, you need the data and you need to disguise your mid-year benchmark test.  The Fall Semester Final should be common (for the content area) and cumulative. When all students take the final, the performance data will inform the instructional staff on pacing issues and will aid in the identification of successful and unsuccessful instructional practices.  Additionally, if the campus/district embeds Spring Semester content questions in the Fall Final (do not count these questions towards the student’s grade) then there is no need to administer an early Spring benchmark test. This simple act will recapture 2 to 4 instructional days in the January.

There is a little leeway for the Spring Semester Final.  For state tested and /or AP courses that provide performance data reports, we suggest not having a final. Simply have an end of unit test. For all other courses there needs to be a common and cumulative (for the Spring Semester) Final. As is the case for the Fall, the performance data will inform the instructional staff on pacing issues and will aid in the identification of successful and unsuccessful instructional practices. Additionally, the teachers in the receiving grade are able to use the Spring Final data to make better intervention and re-teaching decisions. This will also negate the need to administer an early Fall benchmark test. This simple act will recapture 2 to 4 instructional days in September.

Exemptions only made sense in the pre-data era. That era is getting smaller and smaller in our rear-view mirror.

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