As a college preparatory school, Morgan Park Academy exposes students to a wide range of course assessments, including semester examinations. It is important for teachers to have a variety of ways to gauge student progress; semester and final exams in the Upper School are useful for this very purpose and serve as a means to assess the major learning outcomes for courses. As part of the exam process, students organize and review materials learned, thereby enabling them to gain a broader view of that which they have studied. The practice and discipline of preparing for the various assessments in their courses provides students with invaluable learning experiences that will also help them as they move on to college.
Educational theories support the benefits of students reviewing course materials. David Gooblar, a Rhetoric Instructor at the University of Iowa, supports this idea. He feels that exams create a cumulative review of the course content which provides feedback for teachers and lets them determine if they need to revise future lesson plans. At the same time, students benefit from seeing the entire course when they go back to review for their exams because it enables students to have an increased retention of the course materials. Also, students have an increased motivation to retain knowledge during the semester knowing that there will be a culminating exam.
In addition, exams are important in college, so the practice of learning to master exams is vital in high school. Exams help to instill work and study habits for students as well. Moreover, they are an easy way to have a common measuring point of comparison for students. This mode of comparison is important because it allows teachers to see if they have any gaps in their curriculum. Final exams help to ensure that students stay focused until the end of the school year as well and are one way to insure that teachers are covering their entire curriculum. For these reasons we feel that exams serve a useful purpose for our students.
By Tom Drahozal
Mr. Drahozal is the Upper School principal. He also teaches history and coaches our varsity baseball and girls’ basketball teams.