Longer exams could be a positive

Illinois Public Act extends finals

The adjusted schedule for the semester one finals.

Courtesy of RBHS

The adjusted schedule for the semester one finals.

Cameron Bolton, Staff Reporter

This year marked a slight schedule change during semester exams.  The exam schedule for first semester changed from the schedule marked in the Student Handbook, lengthening each exam by 15 minutes from 75 to 90 minutes total.  According to Principal Pam Bylsma, the change was made to comply with a new Illinois Public Act that impacts the time schools are required to be in session each day.  The final day of school, under the new act, was too short to count for required attendance.

“The first and last day have to be five hours,” Bylsma said.  “We lengthened second semester exams in order to come up with the amount of hours to count, and we changed [first semester exams] because we thought it wouldn’t make sense for them to be different.”

Bylsma is certain the change will benefit students in the long run.

“[It] prepares them for the kind of exams that they’ll have in college,” she said.

Bylsma noted that she would like the student body to be aware that, despite the schedule change, they still have the same break time between exams.  The administration kept this the same as they did not want students to go straight from one test to the next without a break.

The lengthened exams had different impacts on teachers preparing their tests.  English teachers could simply extend the time allowed for essays or free responses, but Math and Science teachers had to look at adding questions to exams and extending the content covered.

Science Department Chair Brennan Denny said that many in the Science department did just that.  Math Department Chair Doug Schultz saw different responses in his department.

“We typically have two parts [to an exam], the free response and the multiple choice,” Schultz said.  “Some teachers chose to give both on the same day due to the extra time, while others chose to do it separately like in the past.”

Denny and Schultz both agreed with Bylsma that the extended time proved to be a good thing for students.

“It was a nice thing for students who take a bit longer on tests as they didn’t have to feel as stressed. We didn’t have as many student’s afterwards who didn’t have to finish,” Denny said, in an opinion shared by Schultz.  Schultz added that, although no data was formally taken, he felt that there were less students using the fifteen minute passing periods to finish exams.

As another benefit, Denny noted that the extended time also allowed students who finished quickly extra time to prepare for their next exam.