Between the Jewish high holiday — which precluded teachers from assigning homework and introducing new material — to special assemblies and events, this fall, regular classroom time took a serious hit.
“Our aim for assemblies is to bring in people who support different things happening in the curriculum,” says Upper School Head Joshua Neudel, who also noted that learners benefit from exposure to different viewpoints and cultures.
Goziem Echebiri ’18 enjoys special assemblies, which “offer students a temporary break from academic schedules.” Still, he says, “valuable class time is definitely lost whenever the schedule is changed, and students would benefit from more of a heads-up about assemblies to factor in missed study halls and classroom time.”
Dean of Students Paul Murray recently completed an extensive analysis of what classes are suffering the most from special schedules and days off. “Moving forward, we’re doing our best to keep this in mind so no one block is getting hit heavier than others,” he said.
Bearing this in mind, the administration has decided to move away from a traditional mid-year exam week, as well as requiring formal assessments in most classes. As Neudel recently wrote in an email to parents and students, the major reasons for this change are…
- To gain one week of class time from not maintaining the traditional exam-only week preceded by up to one week dedicated solely to review.
- To allow teachers to use the most relevant assessments for each of their classes.
- To allow more time for classes that are planning end of semester projects and to spread assessments over a two-week period.
- To allow for a better alignment between best practices and the learning goals for each class.
In a separate interview with The Gator, Neudel said that teachers will determine the best type of assessment for their classes, and how to use class time most effectively when planning the end of the semester. Teachers also have the option of assigning a project or exam before or after the holiday break.
“We’re not forcing everyone to pursue the same type of assessment because we do not force everyone to use the same assessment during the year. Some teachers may choose to do a test, some may chose the extra time to do projects, and some may allow you to do a writing assignment,” says Neudel.
Teachers have until November 14 to notify Neudel about their plans. The midterm calendar will be released by November 22, Neudel says, allowing students ample time to prepare. Teachers will also determine the weight for their assigned exam or project.
Spanish teacher Ana Maria Valle-Heredia believes that not having mid-terms makes sense for certain subjects. However, she thinks it is important that students learn how to “take and be successful on larger exams.”
“I think the change is good, and I like it a lot,” says Nicholas Coreia ’17. “Since this is a Winterim year, this gives us the opportunity to learn more content and make up for some of the lost class time.”
Neudel says that Upper School students will still have a final exam week.