One of the great things about CPHS and NKHS is that our teaching staff is in a perpetual state of review and revision. They are never afraid to try something new if there is indication that it might help students. We are currently preparing to review semester exam data and, as a result, we are having thoughtful conversations about why we give exams, what the outcomes should be, and the impact that exams have on student learning. Our current system (by "Our" I mean the system of education in the United States and Michigan) places tremendous emphasis on the scored outcome of assessments and classes in general. The system really teaches students and parents to focus on grades more than they focus on learning. It is, in my opinion, a flawed system. Students are often so hung up on what letter or number appears in red at the top of the test, that they forget that the goal of the test is to measure the learning that has taken place. They spend hours memorizing material just days before the exam and, in some cases, focus very little on the value of the learning that was intended to take place during the weeks leading up to the exam.
I think it is important for all of us (students, parents, teachers, adminstrators, and other staff members) to remember that we give exams for the purpose of collecting data about student learning and our instructional practice. That data is used to ensure that we are meeting student needs and to revise our curriculum and instruction. Grades are a part of our current system and they are necessary, but they should not be the primary focus. The focus should be on student learning throughout the school experience.
I am hoping to have data from semeter exams to report to students, staff, and parents later this month.