The mission of the Wylie East High School news site is to inform, educate and entertain readers. Established Jan. 13, 2011. Principal: Mrs. Tiffany Doolan; Adviser: Ms. Kimberly Creel

Blue Print

The mission of the Wylie East High School news site is to inform, educate and entertain readers. Established Jan. 13, 2011. Principal: Mrs. Tiffany Doolan; Adviser: Ms. Kimberly Creel

Blue Print

The mission of the Wylie East High School news site is to inform, educate and entertain readers. Established Jan. 13, 2011. Principal: Mrs. Tiffany Doolan; Adviser: Ms. Kimberly Creel

Blue Print

The finals countdown

Administration reintroduces final exams to both high schools in the district
Exemption+criteria+%5C%5C+The+graphic+above+reveals+the+different+conditions+through+which+students+are+exempt+from+taking+a+semester+final+and+illuminates+the+absence+policy+used+to+distinguish+excused+from+unexcused+absences.
photo credit: Gloria Olajimi
Exemption criteria \\ The graphic above reveals the different conditions through which students are exempt from taking a semester final and illuminates the absence policy used to distinguish excused from unexcused absences.

This coming spring, students will complete each class curriculum with comprehensive examinations, commonly known as semester finals. Students and staff anticipate an unfamiliar experience given that this is the first time the school has held semester finals in over a decade. 

“I don’t really know what ‘semester finals’ means,” freshman Ryan Porter said.

Roughly 10 years ago, both high schools in the district were required to hold semester exams; however, a state regulation would require Texas schools to install retake policies that made exams too difficult to orchestrate.

“The logistics of getting everybody who was absent to make them up or kids who failed them and had to retake them made [final exams] really hard to work out at the time,” Associate Principal Adam Jacobson said. 

A subtle memory that followed the district over the years, teachers from here and across town advocated for the return of exams because they reveal what students retained throughout the semester. Language and composition teacher Kristy Raymond agrees that implementing final exams are in the best interest of the students’ learning experience.

“I actually liked them when I was in high school because we had the motivation of if you didn’t have over three absences and you maintained a C or higher average you were exempt from the exam,” Ms. Raymond said. 

All classes, including extracurriculars and endorsements, will have a final composed by the teacher or department head. 

“Finals are something new that we’re going to have to explore and see what that looks like for the band program,” Assistant Band Director Adam Bassett said. “Since it’s a performance based class, it’s not typical that we do paper-exams, so I don’t know what it will look like.”

It’s definitely a part of higher education, so it’s good preparation for college and knowing that when you get to the end of the semester someone’s going to test you on the skills you’ve learned.”

— Ms. Kristy Raymond, teacher

Concerns arise over the timing of the announcement, as end-of-the-year field trips, senior activities and vacation plans are typically scheduled for the same time. Schedule interferences cause stress for students as well as teachers who have to grade these exams up to the last week of school, a characteristically less intense period of the academic year. 

“I’m in a lot of school activities and will be going on a lot of field trips at the end of the year,” junior Alysia Hill reports. “I won’t be excused and will have to take these exams even though I’m passing all of my classes.”

However, the final exam is counted as a major grade replacement for the fourth term so that neither failed tests, make-ups or test retakes will count against students. Students and teachers, therefore, have the freedom to grow accustomed with the unfamiliar practice at the conclusion of the year.

“Whenever I take a test,” freshman Bethany Ephram said, “I always wonder if it is going to drop my grade, so I’m nervous about that. But I think the semester finals can be viewed as a learning opportunity for students; it’ll definitely be an opportunity for me.”

Moreover, those with adequate grades and attendance as well as students taking the AP exam are not required to take the spring final. Students, such as senior Nathan Ayala, find that the value of the exam is partially lost due to the generous exemption policy.

“The final is helpful for the people who need it, but for the people who don’t need it, especially if you’re a senior, it doesn’t matter too much,” senior Nathan Ayala said. “It’ll hit hardest for sophomores and juniors.”

Ultimately, the objective of the recent change is to brace students for future academic pressures. 

“It’s definitely a part of higher education, so it’s good preparation for college and knowing that when you get to the end of the semester someone’s going to test you on the skills you’ve learned,” Ms. Raymond said.

Exams are scheduled for the last week of school, May 13th-16th, after AP testing and STAAR tests. In the mornings, students will attend all seven periods on a shortened schedule; two exam periods are set for the afternoons. 

“Anytime we do something new, it’s not going to be perfect,” Mr. Jacobson said. “The first time we do it this May, the best thing to think about is that it’s an opportunity to figure out all the adjustments we need to make. I would suspect there would be a lot of changes in the details between this time in may and the next time we do this.”

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