This is a great time to set in motion a better, common sense practice to replace an all too common bad practice… Exempting students from finals.


“But Sean, we have to exempt students from finals so BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.”


I’ve heard it all.  And in all cases, the school is willing to sacrifice valid, necessary performance data to slap a band-aid on some other problem.  Stop doing that.  Do this, instead.


  1. Have a common, rigorous, cumulative Fall Semester Final and Spring Semester Final for all subjects.
    1. For courses that require an early Spring Semester Benchmark Test, embed some Spring preview questions in the Fall Semester Final (just don’t count those questions towards the final grade).
      1. You now have a source of valid performance data from the Fall Semester and the Spring Semester.
      2. Plus, you can now skip the way too long and statistically useless Spring Semester Benchmark Test.
  2. For the Fall Semester Final, there are absolutely no exemptions. Everyone takes the common final.
  3. For the Spring Semester Final there are couple of minor adjustments.
    1. There are no preview questions, because the entire course is now over.
    2. It is cumulative for the Spring semester.
  4. The Spring Semester Final data provides the following information:
    1. Valid performance data from the Spring Semester.
    2. Assessment and placement data for the upcoming Fall semester (this also negates the need for early Fall Benchmark Tests)
  5. Exemptions to the Spring Final can be implemented in the following special cases.
    1. The course is subject to a cumulative state accountability test. For example, in Texas, the final for a STAAR tested course can be skipped because the STAAR provides the course performance data.
    2. The course is an AP or similar course and the student takes the AP or similar test. The AP or similar test provides the course performance data. If the student opts out of the AP or similar test, then they must take the final.


Oh, and one last thing. If you go thru the organization ordeal of implementing this best practice, make sure you actually use the data. Otherwise, it is all pain and no gain.


Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

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