Truth be told, I'm writing this post before you're reading it. (Of course, that's obvious, since I can't very well write it after you read it!) I figure that since almost nobody reads my posts as they publish (because I'm not yet a super famous author with fans who don't know me in person), I'm writing my Why Wednesday posts mostly for myself, my few loyal followers, and for future fans. So, right now, as I write, I'm sitting at the front of two columns of desks, in our school's gym, as my eleventh-grade students bubble in letters and write an essay for me. I took the photo of my students, from the back of the room, just moments ago.
I'm not trying to torture them. I think it's really beneficial for kids to try to pull together what they've learned, to show off how much they know now that they didn't know a few months ago. I think it's good for them not to know exactly what to expect, so that they study everything. Educational research supports that taking tests increases knowledge of a subject.
When my older daughter got to college, she started taking classes with over a hundred students in the room. Her whole grade in each of those courses came from her scores on three tests. I think her exams here helped her, a little, to prepare for that system.
I know that projects can be more fun for students, but I also know that part of my job is to train them to understand and be able to produce strong work without unlimited access to technology or time. That's what exams allow.
What are your thoughts on exams? Please feel free to leave a comment or question below.