The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Semester one exams cancelled for seniors


On May 1, 2018, Taipei American School Upper School principal Dr. Richard Hartzell informed the Class of 2019 via email that he had decided to cancel first semester exams for seniors in the Class of 2019.

Mr. Andrew Lowman, Upper School Associate Principal, said that the decision was made after years of observing seniors during the December exam month. During the month, students were more stressed than normal. Dr. Hartzell points to the release of early decision results and the final push for regular college applications as to why stress levels are so high during December. He said, “Right in the middle of the most stressful time in the year, seniors were expected to do their very best on exams—and not have time for or access to the college counselors.”

In addition to the added stress, the administration believed that a final exam would not be useful for the seniors. Mr. Lowman said, “If the purpose of having semester exams is to assess student learning via a final exam, there are other forms of assessment available such as unit tests, papers, quizzes and so on.” Conversely, “If the point is to give students testing experience, students already have a lot of testing experience, and a lot of them are taking external IB or AP exams anyways.”

With this newfound time, the Upper School administration hopes to help college-bound seniors concentrate on college applications, deal with early application results, and visit college counselor. Furthermore, the College Counseling Department will be using the time for some programs intended to assist seniors with their transitions to college and their final year at TAS.

According to Upper School Associate Principal Mr. Vandenboom the decision “represents a change in policy” and not a temporary fix. However, in a word of caution to the current seniors, Dr. Hartzell said, “This change will be subject to review based on the actions of the Class of 2019. The change is not meant as an excuse for some students to lengthen their vacation.” Despite this, Dr. Hartzell feels he can count on the seniors’ maturity and thoughtfulness in their response to the change.

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