Math Department's Past Tests Policy


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Haverford High School's Math department has decided to collect essential class worksheets and assessments and kept them so students are unable to study for final exams. In order to "protect test security" the math department collects key worksheets, as well as corrected tests and quizzes, so that they can not be copied and cheated off of. However, these same worksheets provide the keys to study for the final exams.

Tests and quizzes provide the best insight into key material for the unit, which is likely to appear in some form on the final. Unit tests distill what is important into a few sheets from which to study from. In addition, most students put out extra effort on graded work then they do on homework and notes. The teacher also expels extra efforts to correct this work. By keeping track of what one got wrong on tests, and by making corrections, they can better focus their studying on certain key areas. These areas which they missed on the assessments can be learned from to do better on the final exam, and to actually learn the material [the purpose of education].

However, by keeping this material secret and classified, the Math department is jeopardizing the education of its students. It is especially damaging to those students who wish to better understand the material for life and for the final. By classifying and collecting assignments, as well as key worksheets, the Math department is taking away student's best source of notes and key example problems.

The Math department is taking these steps so that they may reuse assessments from semester to semester. However, similar tests can be easily generated by changing the numbers and other minor information in the problems. These steps will stop students from simply acquiring past copies of the test in order to save the answers. In addition, Math assessments usually require one to show work; a correct answer by itself only earns one partial credit at best. By changing numbers and requiring work, the Math department incentives students to learn the steps required to actually solve a problem.

Perhaps, by offering similar past assessments with example problems, students will be incentivized to study and actually learning the steps because they know that similar problems will appear on their own assessments. Also, by reviewing the entire process of how to solve a problem, students can gain more insights to study then just a blank review worksheet. (However to fully prepare students should try to replicate the answers on a seperate sheet of paper without looking)

However it appears that the Math department refuses to undergo these steps because they are unwilling to expend a little effort to change their assessments from semester to semester. They appear unwilling to keep the best interest of their students in mind in order to avoid a little extra work for themselves. The appearance of such neglect towards the education of their students should not be tolerated.

The Math department will still be able to standardize, even after undertaking the steps I've recommended. By maintaining a bank of test questions, and slightly editing them each time, the Math department can still avoid the problems of cheating, but still incentives all students to study for upcoming assessments.

In addition, to further reduce the number of different tests, a standardized test could be given to all students in a certain course during the same semester. One test could be made up for all classes, and it would be given back and graded after everyone in the school took it. This minimizes the additional work required, while still allowing students to study for their final exams.

The process of making up similar, but different exams is already in practice at Haverford for students making up a test late.

In addition, the distribution of prior assessments should be viewed as a positive, because students will know that similar questions will appear and they can direct their focus towards studying the processes in general, not just the answer to a certain problem. The redirects the process of negative study from past test to positive study, which will actually help them learn. Because Math problems usually require work to be shown, it will become more work to cheat, then to actually study.

Thus, I urge the Math department to revisit their policy on not distributing and releasing graded material.

--ThePlaz 17:17, 30 May 2007 (EDT)

Clarification Statement

I just wanted to provide more information about what I wrote above. At this point my concerns don’t have anything to do with my website. It’s about my ability to do succeed on the final. It’s also not only about test and quizzes being withheld. My math teacher is collected and sequestering the review worksheets and formula sheets. This is because the policy also seems to cover all graded work.

I find it ridiculous that they collect the “review for the final” worksheet after it’s returned with a grade because they don’t want people to cheat on them. However their purpose is not only for a grade, but to help us review. I would rather forget the small grade now to let us study for the final. I know they don’t have to provide review worksheets- but to provide them and sequester them is ridiculous.

In addition, our teacher collect the formula sheet we were always allowed to use (even on assessments) as part of a portfolio which she is refusing to return. I never memorized these formulas because we never needed to. In addition she said she would provide one for the final. But she won’t give us one for the review worksheet. (????Any idea what’s going on here ??)

The more I think about it, the less sense this all seems to make. The only conclusion I am starting to reach is that the math department is trying to hurt our chances on the final, or doesn’t care how we do on it. I know, or at least hope this is not the case. However, the continuation of these wacky policies, will lead me to believe that this is the case. I hope that the school will do something about this, or else I will start having serious doubts about the commitment of the school and its staff to its education of its students. As I said before, this is not about the website content; this is about my and my peer’s educations.