Woodside Teachers Straying Away from Final Exams

More Teachers are Opting to do Final Projects Rather than Tests

Kenna Beban, Staff Writer

Upcoming Finals and Study Week strikes fear into the hearts of Woodside students ‒ but not all teachers give the standard, panic-inducing final exam.

Woodside High School has several regulations for the last two weeks of the semester: no new material or homework during Study Week, and an academic final on the day designated for a final exam. However, not all teachers have found this method ideal for their students.

Depending on their type of class, some teachers found that projects better assessed the skills their students had learned. “In my class I find it better for kids to demonstrate what they learned as opposed to write what they learned,” Foods and Nutrition teacher Erin Kilty told the Woodside World.

In fact, many elective teachers, with more hands-on classes, have adopted the project-based method for testing their students. On the other hand, teachers in core subjects like math, English, science and history often prefer the traditional academic test style of final.

“In the math classes we try to be pretty standard across all of them,” Pre-Calculus teacher Briana Lee told the Woodside World. “We can really test for understanding across all the concepts across second semester, and it would be hard to make a project that covers all of that.”

Even students agree with this. “[Projects] work for most classes except math-related classes,” Woodside Junior Luis Espino said. “Either you know it or you don’t.”

Depending on the class, projects might be more beneficial for the students. While some thrive under the time-crunch of a test, others experience stress, anxiety and other symptoms in the pressure cooker situation that result in poor test scores and inaccurately reflect their actual academic ability.

Many studies, including a 2015 study from the UK National Union of Teachers, have found that many exams decrease a student’s motivation , while increasing anxiety, stress and mental health problems. Projects also don’t include many of the anxiety-inducing traits as exams. They employ real-world skills like teamwork, planning, setting deadlines and research.

Woodside junior Luis Espino said he prefers a more authentic assessment. “I do better on projects rather than actual tests on the day…if you do a test then you have to memorize everything you did throughout the year,” Espino said.

While many students are more comfortable with tests, there is real-life value in being able to recall information quickly and accurately, and in being able to work under a lot of pressure. These skills are especially helpful to students taking AP and other standardized tests.

Neither exams or projects are better at assessing a student’s abilities; they both require different sets of skills and methods. While all teachers have to test their students at the end of the school year, most use the approach they think will better show their student’s abilities.