Today was the first day of exams, which is kind of confusing since classes aren’t finished yet.
Basically, in the school where I work, the high school third graders (US 12th grade) graduate two-thirds of the way through the year. In order to do this, a few things happen:
First, the students finish early (classes finished last week) and start exams.
Second, if anyone is going to fail it gives the powers what are a chance to pressure the teacher into changing the marks/giving a second and/or third chance. There is no rhyme or reason for this, except possibly money (but that’s just me being cynical) or sending good athletes to university (also me being cynical).
Third, the early schedule allows time for a quick make-up examination that is part of the pressure from the second reason.
Whatever the reason, there’s a a lot of pressure to pass the students and, in defense of the school, most of the students are going to pass anyway. In fact, the only way to fail is to not attend class, although exceptions have been made for that (see second reason above).
Part of the problem in my class is that most of the points are based on work and performances done in class. However, I’m still expected to give a final exam. To help mitigate this, I make the final exam worth only 25% of the final score and let students know, within reason, what will be on it. Also, because there’s not a lot of grammar, my final exam is pretty easy as there’s not a lot to study. If anyone fails it’s because they fell asleep and didn’t finish all the questions.
By the middle of December, the students know if they are going to graduate or not. There is much rejoicing.
There is, however, one final twist. Although they know they are going to graduate, and although no more scores are given, the students are expected–sort of–to attend classes at least two more times in January.
Of course, it doesn’t really matter if they don’t as there’s no way to punish them.