Subject-Based Finals Cause Confusion for Some

Subject-Based Finals Cause Confusion for Some

Despite the effort to have better test security, the new finals’ policy, which administered tests by subjects rather than class periods, caused confusion for some teachers and students last week during exams.

Until last semester, finals have been proctored by the teachers who taught the classes in the same classroom. With the new policy, the proctors of the exams had no teaching experience with the exams that they gave. The classrooms that  the exams were also different from the classroom that the subject was taught in.

“It was a complete and total disaster. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. From what I understand, every department went through issues. English, Foreign Language, Math, Social Studies all went through issues. Mr. [Kendall] Griffin worked on this for months. He knocked himself out trying to make something unworkable work,” English teacher Sharon Swanson said.

Assistant principal Kendall Griffin said given the circumstances, final exams went well.

“I felt all in all, the process and distribution of final exams went very well for our VERY first time with this structure. To quote Mr. Osburn in a recent e-mail he sent out to the entire faculty and staff after final exams were completed, ‘This constituted the single largest operational change we have undertaken in almost a decade.’ Final exams were processed more quickly and loaded into grade books more quickly than ever before. We estimated that 97% of scheduled final exams were administered before the end of the day on the final day of testing, which that rate exceeded our daily attendance and our test completion rate for ACT/PSAT Most teachers were freed up to address issues other than test administration, and this aspect will improve even more as we improve our operations,” Griffin said in an email.

Students agreed with Swanson.

“The testing environment was strange, because I was so used to taking tests in all of my regular classes so changing the classrooms made the test feel different and I didn’t like it,” senior Michael Kim said.

“If I had to choose, I would go back to how it used to be. If I had a question on the test, my proctor couldn’t really help me. It didn’t help at all if an English teacher proctored my Physics exam,” junior Matthew Sumague said.

Physics teacher Martha Lietz said teachers and students should give subject – based finals a chance.

“If the test is well written, then it should be fine. The AP test isn’t proctored by the actual teachers. This is a model used in a lot of other places. I don’t want to give up on it once,” Lietz said.

In addition to the fact that there was a lack of familiarity between the proctors and the exams they gave, there was a bigger conflict with the freshman and sophomore English exams.

“When we were made aware that reading portion of the final exam was not included due to an unfortunate oversight, we contacted the English department chair, Mrs. Cheng and immediately formulated a plan. That plan was executed and we were able to distribute the missing section of the English final within 20 to 30 minutes after the exam period began. Furthermore, any student who felt they did not have sufficient time to complete the exam, was given the opportunity to come to the cafe during the 2:10 to 3:30 make-up period on day one of testing and complete that portion of final exam,” Griffin said.

“I would have felt more comfortable with my teacher there, especially for English since they forgot our booklets,” freshman Soretti Donka said.

According to Donka, the final had to be made up on the last day of final exams if they missed it on the day it was assigned.

” I was a bit annoyed, but it’s okay,” Donka said.

“I think they were unorganized and unprepared and it could have affected some the student’s grades. It was just annoying,” sophomore David Easter said.

The exams were also scheduled by class period instead of being scheduled by subject. Some classes were scheduled to be with other classes, and students had to take one and make up the other at the cost of their time.

“It was a pain to work out conflicts which I think most people had. It was really busy in the student commons for makeups,” junior Connie Dang said.

“I had to take a makeup exam in the commons and ended up waiting at least 10 minutes just to get my test because there were so many conflicts,”  junior Tina Conis said.

Griffin confirms that the policy will still be similar for second semester.

“The schedule will be modified after we have had an opportunity to review how the process went from the first semester but we will continue to follow the same concept of giving finals exams by subject area,” Griffin said.

Although there were plenty of conflicts, there were some optimists towards the change.

“The administrations primary goal is test security and in that sense it’s far more effective,” Lietz said.

“I actually liked it. It wasn’t that different from before. I just wanted to get it over with,” junior Jayna Shah said.

“Surprisingly, I actually really liked the new schedule. I was able to study with everyone in my grade, since we all had the same tests at the same time. I had more of my friends to hangout with which is always a plus,” junior Ruby Ladrido said.

According to a Niles West News poll, majority of the Niles West student body disagreed with the change. They also opt for the policy and schedule to go back to how it used to be.

“I found the change unnecessary. The proctors were rather helpless and I had my hardest finals on the same day. The previous schedule worked fine and I think it should have been kept that way,” junior Esteban Gavilanez said.

“I didn’t like the new schedule because it wasn’t flexible at all. I would want it to go back to how it used to be,” junior Amna Hader said.

Take the NWN poll and let us know what you think. 

What did you think of the new finals system?

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3 Comments

  1. avatar
    Deena

    The finals schedule change caused a lot of confusion for students. Personally, for me it was hard to adjust to the new schedule. I think it would be best to change the schedule back to how it was before because it was easier for students.

  2. avatar
    .

    I think the teachers tried really hard to make this work, but it wasn’t just the issues like having parts of the test missing, lack of proctors at the beginning of some exams, difficulty getting tests down to the commons for make-ups in time, ect, ect; I feel that another issue was lack of space. For many of my finals I was seated at the same table as someone else and some of the tests had really large bubbles. While same subject tests lowered the possibility of asking a classmate what was on the test in general, if someone wanted to it would be pretty easy to copy down someone else’s answers directly off their paper. Not only was the process of these exams unsuccessful, but they didn’t achieve what they were meant to.

  3. avatar
    Sharon Swanson

    Okay, so upon review, perhaps some of my comments sound a bit harsh. I know the teachers did the best they could, given the circumstances…and some students found nothing wrong with it. It just seemed to me that there was too much confusion and too many changes at the same time…and I think the students suffered from not having their teachers around to question and too many glitches in the process itself.

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About

When she’s not busy keeping up with her AP classes and writing for the NWN and The Mash, Gabby enjoys taking yoga classes, traveling, and getting her hands on a DIY project. Last summer, she was the Illinois representative for the Al Neuharth Free Spirit program and plans on majoring in journalism in college.

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