Semester tests: are they really worth it?

Elizabeth Boysen, Staff Writer

Semester tests are upon us, which means endless cups of coffee and review packets. District-wide semester tests are no doubt stressful, but they work. Or do they?

Most people have an opinion or theory on whether these tests do the job they are supposed to, assess how much a student has learned during the first half of the school year.

LHS principal Robert Grimm finds them effective only if the content is geared towards assessing a students ability rather than simply recalling information.

“I believe they can be an effective way to assess student outcomes. If the assessments are written well and allow for students to demonstrate what they learned, then I believe they are effective,” said Grimm.

However there can be problems when it comes to the set up of semester tests, Grimm would rather see students apply real life to their subjects.

“The problem occurs when assessments are not geared to assess student learning but are asking for recall. I would much rather see students complete a  project (real life) to demonstrate mastery of objectives,” said Grimm.

LHS physics and astronomy teacher Jennifer Dubois has a similar view on the efficiency of semester tests.

“If the test is well-written I believe it is a good way to assess what a student has learned throughout the course of the semester. The physics test has a lot of application to it, so I will be able to measure if a student really has an understanding of several concepts that we address during the course of the semester,” said Dubois.

Sophomore Mika Gochal wants a more personal approach to evaluating student’s knowledge.

“I think teachers should put less emphasis on semester tests in the grade book. Maybe more personalized, individual projects could be done for each class in school. Not everyone is the same,” said Gochal.

The pressure of semester tests can also take a toll on the student’s grades.

“It’s a ton of pressure, and not everyone can ace a big test. I know tons of people who are so brilliant but get stressed and anxious from tests, then their grade doesn’t actually reflect their knowledge,” said Gochal.

Grimm and Dubois’s similar opinions back the original understanding of the purpose of semester tests but the perspective of a student such as Gochal leaves us wondering if they are actually worth the caffeine induced late nights.