In a given school semester, a student will be asked to complete projects, assignments and chapter exams. A final exam cumulatively assesses the retention of the term's content. Some school districts across the nation offer a final exam exemption for students in 9th through 12th grades, if they meet specific requirements. These requirements may involve a classroom grade, attendance and a behavioral record. There are both positive and negative effects to skipping out on final exams but, in the end, doing what is best for the overall educational journey of each student should be the focus.
Exam Exemption Pros
Earning exemption from the final exams typically means that the student has performed to an exceptional standard throughout the school year, resulting in a high end-of-term grade. The exam exemption gives students an incentive for demonstrating strong effort in assignments, unit tests, projects and class participation. By establishing academic excellence each day, the student has proven his overall understanding of the course subject areas.
Enhancing student drive and commitment are other positive elements of shooting for final exam exemption. While students keep their eye on the prize, they build character and traits that can be used in the future, whether moving on to a post-secondary placement or entering the workforce.
Cons of Test Exemption
Working toward a final-exam exemption may alleviate stress in the "now," but, in the long-run, students may not have prepared themselves for what lies ahead in a post-secondary educational institution. Four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, and career or vocational schools commonly use final exams to ensure that students have retained the year's worth of information for future use in more advanced classes. Most college core classes build upon one another until graduation. Few offer exemptions at the post-secondary level.
State Standardized Final Exams
Some states require students to pass a state-devised standardized test in each core subject area. These are graded by instructors outside the school district. New York state, for example, offers a more advanced graduation certificate called the Regents Diploma. Final exams are devised by a state-designated panel and are required of students seeking a Regents diploma no matter the classroom grade. These tests are not optional and are not subject to a final exam exemption. Other states have similar requirements, both for standard or advanced diplomas.
Final Exam Alternatives
In lieu of a "fill-in-the-bubble" exam to assess student concept comprehension, teachers may use other measures,exempting all who choose the alternate type of assessment from a final exam. These could be projects or student portfolios that require students to use content from all the subject units during the school year for one comprehensive report, oral presentation and visual representation. The projects may be presented in front of the class, as either an individual or group project, resulting in the same grades. Often, alternative assessments traditionally are averaged into the cumulative class grade in a lesser percentage than a standard final exam.