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Monday, August 30, 2010

Timberlane decides to drop midterm, final exams

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane decides to drop midterm, final exams

By Jo-Anne MacKenzie

PLAISTOW — Timberlane Regional High School's 1,500 students start a new school year today and it's going to be one like no other.

School administrators have decided to eliminate midterm and final exams, starting this school year.

Principal Donald Woodworth said the decision was five years in the making. This summer, the debate was only whether to implement the change this year or next.

"We felt we needed to get going," he said.

By making the change, Woodworth said, students and teachers will gain at least eight instructional days every school year. The school will do more assessment, not less, he said, but it will be done continuously and more effectively.

"It's an opportunity to be more responsive to students along the way," Woodworth said. "We'll have a better handle on what they know, when they know it and how to respond to what they need."

The school will still participate in state and national standardized testing — and teachers will still give tests, but there won't be all the emphasis placed on an exam worth 20 percent of a student's grade.

"We'll be able to get our assessments really focused on our competencies," Woodworth said, "and how we get every kid to be moving forward."

To help students move forward, the school also is adding reading and writing labs, places where students who struggle in either area can get extra help. Students can opt in on their own, and teachers, administrators, parents and guidance counselors can recommend a student work in one of the new labs. The labs will remain open until 3:30 p.m. every school day, well after the end of the traditional day at 2:10 p.m.

"As a building, we're trying to create more layers of support for students," Woodworth said.

He said he expects some students will object to the loss of the exam schedule — those two or three weeks a year when teaching stops and the whole school focuses on exams.

"I think a lot of them are going to be helped," the principal said. "Teachers will have more opportunities to tailor things to their learning styles."

Teachers were told this summer about the change, which will mean designing new ways of assessment and, perhaps, new teaching methods.

"I know there are some teachers who are working really hard right now getting ready to roll this out," Woodworth said Friday.

One of those is fifth-year French teacher Sandra Allaire, who was at school Friday.

"I'm in the process of digesting it. Any change is surprising and perhaps a little bit scary ...," she said. "But it's also exciting. ... I am definitely on board. I've been talking with colleagues and it will be a learning experience for us over the course of the year. From a teacher's perspective, we'll be able to use our planning time a little bit more effectively."

Allaire said the decision will affect both how she teaches and how she assesses student progress. She said exams, particularly at midterm, were often an artificial interruption of teaching and learning.

"We'll still be assessing the students," she said. "But rather than stopping at a certain time on the calendar, we'll be doing it when we feel the students are ready."

By no means does the decision mean Timberlane students won't have tests — they will.

"Many classes will continue to use these tests to determine the level of their students' learning and ability, and these tests will factor into their grades," Woodworth said. "Content knowledge will still be a significant factor in student assessment."

The School Board backs the decision to eliminate exams. In a prepared statement, board chairman Elizabeth Kosta said the board is encouraged by the efforts to meet all students' needs.

Woodworth said he anticipates many conversations with individual board members and parents as the news gets out.

On Sept. 28, he will host a "Coffee With the Principal" at 6:30 p.m. in the school library. That will give parents a chance to learn more about the change and its implementation.


Anonymous said...

Oh, this is definitely the way to improve academic results!

Anonymous said...

"We'll still be assessing the students," she said. "But rather than stopping at a certain time on the calendar, we'll be doing it when we feel the students are ready."

So if the teacher thinks that the student isn't ready, there will be NO assessment??? Maybe students can take the SAT's when they are ready? What a joke! I haven't read anything about who sets the criteria for assessment. The teacher? Is the assessment based on the lowest denominator? Rumor has it that all grades will disappear for a pass/fail system. Wonder when that change will be sprung on the students. Guess what, you'll find lots of teacher and students happy about that too.

Anonymous said...

"So if the teacher thinks that the student isn't ready, there will be NO assessment???"

No. The article states the school still participates in state and national testing.

To me, this is welcome news. The students have NECAPS for testing. Midterms and finals are becoming antiquated and unnecessary. I would imagine other parents will think this to be a good decision.

Anonymous said...

This sounds to me like one more "dumbing-down" trend we see all-too-often in education.

After watching all my kids go through the system and put on the full-court press for Midterms and Finals, I am hard-pressed to believe this is a better approach, especially when so many teachers have a policy of allowing re-takes of tests where one did poorly.

The real world operates according to deadlines, performance and achievement; with no special rules or do-overs for laggards. Why does the education system get further away from the world kids will face after graduation?

Anonymous said...

If you dont have midterms and finals, how do know if the student learned and should get credit for the course?

Anonymous said...

I saw former school committee president Lt. Baldwin today working in the cruiser. WELCOME BACK!

Anonymous said...

Hey, if that's true and Baldwin is back does that mean Phil can retire?

Anonymous said...

This should help that School in need of improvement designation!

Anonymous said...

LaSalle and Woodworth has finally achieved notoriety. Congrats. Way to put Timberlane on the map!

Anonymous said...

I don't think a subjective assessment is going to work nor do I think it's fair.

Anonymous said...

Being a former student, mid terms and finals were a joke. What a waste of a week - you come to school LATE for a 1 or 2 hour exam, then go home and do nothing the rest of the day. Next day, do it all over again until your finals/mid-terms are done... It was stupid. This is MUCH better because now instead of getting "behind schedule because of mid-terms" as the teacher's would say - the schedule will just run smoothly.

MAcciard said...

Funny, when I went to Timberlane, your schedule didn't change for mids and finals.

You went to ALL of your classes, as you normally would, and you simply knew that on that particular day, you had your mid or final in a particular subject. You studied and did your best, and a substantial portion of your final grade was based on those two tests. It prepared me for college.

We didn't "fall behind schedule" because of these tests.

Anonymous said...

Note that this debacle isn't even on the School Board's agenda for this week's meeting.

As far as I'm concerned, this is just another reason to:

A) Get a new Superintendant
B) Elect a new School Board instead of the present group of sheeple

Anonymous said...

Maybe, they will give all the kids A's then blame the state when they flunk anyway.

Anonymous said...

...'more layers of support'...means a bigger Administration.

They'll need it. Individualized attention, one on one. The perfect reason to ask fo mo money.

Anonymous said...

Baldwin is back?

Ask him where he put the grant equipment. Bennett said he was in charge of it.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of questions for Baldwin that need answers. How about his support for a $780,000tower we didn't need for one? He's the Chief's 'MOUTHPIECE" AND BOTH NEED TO GO. Our pocketbooks can't afford them or the Selectmen.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Baldwin how much did he rip the taxpayers off for this deployment? How about it to answer or are you overpaying him again at our expense?

Oh, by the way Baldwin.......welcome back! You have a LOT OF EXPLAINING TO DO TO THE TAXPAYERS. If you don't want to do it...........MOVE AND TAKE THE CHIEF WITH YOU. You know what we are talking about so don't pretend, ok?

Anonymous said...

This is the best reason for home schooling or CHARTER SCHOOLS We've ever seen. ALL teachers should be fired from Timberlane and start a new system. If teachers can't earn their pay............POOF GONE. I'm sick of them and the national teachers association.

Rich said...

I can't belive the venom towards Lt. Baldwin.
Thanks for serving the country, Lt. Baldwin. The nation appreciates your service. We're glad you are back safely.

Anonymous said...

There's a reason charter schools are gaining in popularity. Do people understand that the current administration is hurting the timberlane community. Timberlane's reputation is diminishing. Have read some of the comments out there regarding not moving into this district or how glad some have managed to move out! Property value is dropping and school administration is NOT helping us! Wake up people.

Anonymous said...

Teachers WANT dumb graduates. They will become dumb voters that become dependant on Gov. handouts that give more schools more money to produce more dumb graduates. Teachers are helping destroy America from within. They couldn’t teach children anything because teachers couldn’t pass the tests they give at midterms. They are a case of the Blind leading the Blind.

Anonymous said...

Was Baldwin EVER IN HARMS WAY this last time out?

Anonymous said...

He's Coast Guard, so no, he wasn't.

MAcciard said...

With all due respect to the commenters, While Lt. Baldwin has not served in a forward position, he has SERVED! He has been "in harm's way" as the saying goes, and therefore is deserving of your respect for the same.

Like the man or dislike, but Your personal feelings do not change his service.

Anonymous said...


They already give all the kids A's and if you don't get an A they will find a lower level class to put child in.

Len Mullen said...

TRHS principal Donald Woodworth will hold a meeting open to parents on Tuesday September 28th to discuss the decision to eliminate midterms and finals. I hope everyone shows up to listen to Mr. Woodworth. I plan to attend. I’ll be the guy in the ‘unseal the minutes’ t-shirt. I’ll be insisting that there be no more secrets from the parents — no more minutes sealed for 99 years, no more blacked out work sessions, and no more LIES.

Anonymous said...

I attended high school a LONG time ago. I don't think I ever had a final or mid-term exam, but I had tons of exams...after each chapter we had been studying; after each period in history; after each book we had been REQUIRED to read. In most cases, answers to questions were to be done in a written format; spelling and grammar counted. None of this philosophy that spelling and grammar didn't count as long as they had the concept.

My grandchildren are attending Timberlane. They are ecstatic when finals week comes. Some days they didn't even have to go to school! Tests that I saw were more of a "one word answer" type.

Assuming Mr. Woodworth is planning (hoping) to return to that type of education, I'd be thrilled.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, like I said earlier - mid terms and finals are a free-for-all, no school several days; depending on your grade some teachers dont require you to take the exam, its just a joke... glad to see they are done with so they'll be more learning time (even being a student, yes it was nice - but a waste of time)

Anonymous said...

Finals at Timberlane are a joke and Finals at Timberlane do NOT really impact your overall grade, they are worth that little. Is it right...NO. Running away from the problem is a LOT easier than fixing it. Cummulative testing is an important skill that some students still need to do well in the future. SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT still exists. You need to pass board exams for medical and other professional services and certifications. Until all cummulative testing goes away, I don't believe it's in the best interest of the student to stop giving finals in HS. So, maybe the solution is to separate those students who need to become proficient with cummulative testing from those who have a less demanding future. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Coffee and Conversation with the Principal (And Guests)
Tuesday, September 28; 6:30 in the TRHS Library
This coming Tuesday, September 28, TRHS Principal Don Woodworth and Director of Secondary
Education Scott Strainge will be joined by State of New Hampshire Deputy Commissioner of
Education Paul Leather and members of the Timberlane administrative team to discuss recent
changes to the assessment system here at Timberlane.
Principal Woodworth will present a history of the changes that have been underway at the high
school over the last five years, and how this change is the latest in a series of measures
designed to link curriculum, instruction and assessment more closely to state standards and
measures of student competency. Following the presentation, we will entertain questions
around the topic of competency assessments and our move towards an authentic competencybased
assessment system.
Please join us in the Timberlane Regional High School Library at 6:30.