Geneseo school officials consider dropping finals

Lisa Depies
Geneseo High School

The era of high school students cramming for semester exams may be coming to an end.

Geneseo School District Superintendent Scott Kuffel has asked the high school building leadership team, staff and administration to consider not having semester and final exams for one year.

“In gathering information from graduates who are attending different colleges and universities, as well as in speaking to personnel at Black Hawk College and other local institutions of higher education, the concept of comprehensive examinations for a semester or final has dissipated greatly,” write Kuffel in his report to the Geneseo School Board.

“The need to prepare students to take a comprehensive exam has waned over the past decade,” he said.

Eliminating semester exams would give the school district more flexibility when establishing school year calendars. As it is, the district tries to end the first semester before the Christmas holiday, which can cause scheduling difficulties, said Kuffel.

“The high school loses, at a minimum, four instructional days (two each semester) by virtue of scheduling exams so students aren’t overwhelmed with too many tests in one day,” he said.

The goal, said Kuffel is to “build back more teaching and learning time into the calendar.”

The superintendent explained the trend in education is to move to a more standards-based approach, “where formative and summative assessments specifically target a level of proficiency of mastery of the content and skills, making large-scale, high-pressure exams much less valuable to identifying student ability.”

“Using a 40 percent first quarter, 40 percent second quarter, 20 percent exam formula to calculate semester grades has the potential to put more focus on an actual grade and less emphasis on the importance of learning the content appropriately and development of skills necessary to demonstrate mastery,” said Kuffel.