The Wildcat Roar

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A Step in the Right Direction

The new finals policy should lead to needed class changes

Stanford University

Stanford University

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A new school year means new stipulations for Westminster students and teachers. The hot topic this year is the changes to the semester final. Finals are now required to be cumulative (this includes having cumulative semester finals for AP classes), ninety minutes long, and students have to stay in the testing room for the complete ninety minutes. Additionally, the finals are over before lunch each day and there are not any finals on Friday this year.

Although each class is different, these new rules are built on a foundation that does not exist for much of the school. Westminster’s classes and finals are supposed to reflect knowledge and information retrieval, comprehension, analysis, and knowledge utilization. Most of these things are accomplished in classes, but few effectively have students put the knowledge they learn to use in an exam. In order to change the semester final system around the idea of knowledge utilization, classes first need to be developed to embody that goal.

Westminster is increasingly trying to move in the right direction, and the changes to the finals highlight what needs to continue to be changed in the classroom. This shorter, cumulative final is supposed to be manageable for students by creating a test that allows them to put all that they have learned together, rather than trying to regurgitate every specific thing they have learned. Asking students to change the way they think from a school year full of simply retrieving information to a final built on effectively putting that knowledge to use will turn out terribly if not reinforced in the classroom.

Essentially, these new rules require all classes to be run on the premise of putting learning into action. If the classes are not developed around this premise, then the finals will continue to be information retrieval or the test will be nothing like the class and trip up students.

Although Westminster is attempting to make the right changes, classes need to be continually evaluated in order to make both classes and finals more meaningful. Classes can use what they learn in order to produce products, get involved in helping the community, or whatever else actually puts learning into use.

The new finals system is a step in the right direction, and it allows administration to clearly see what needs to be accomplished in classes.

 

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A Step in the Right Direction