Exams in the 21st Century: To Have or Not To Have

Status: RECORDED on FEB 15, 2012

$156 Non-Member

[$143.00 Gold Member]

The primary concerns that are raised when discussing the elimination of exam periods are:

  • This is an indication of decreased expectations and academic “rigor”
  • MS students need exams to get them prepared for high school (which prepares them for college)
  • How will we know what they have learned?
  • We’ve always had exams—why change now?

In response to the concerns listed above, remind your critics that you are not eliminating cumulative or major assessments, but rather the exam period (meaning a period of time when classes stop solely for exams to take place).

You'll cover these topics and more:

  • High student stress being directly correlated with low student performance
  • The rationale behind exams
  • Exam periods that drive programs verses teachers designing curriculum and then determining the most pedagogically beneficial time to assess students
  • Good teachers will be assessing students daily by observing them
  • Learning and retention

Run Time:
Total run time is 60 minutes. The presentation will run approximately 45 minutes with 15 minutes designated for Q&A.

staff photo barbara beachley

Barbara Beachley

ISM Director of Advisory Services | Consultant


Barbara provides her expertise in the areas of student-centered and brain-based pedagogies, faculty growth and culture, faculty evaluation, academic leadership, mission identity, survey best practices, and data analysis.

Current Role

As Director of ISM Advisory Services, Barbara:

  • Oversees ISM’s Consulting, Publications, Research, and Professional Development divisions
  • Consults in strategic academic planning and school leadership
  • Writes for ISM’s publications, including Ideas & Perspectives
  • Facilitates some of ISM's scheduling workshops, empowering teachers to transition to and teach effectively in longer periods
  • Leads courses at ISM’s Summer Institute, including Transformative Academic Leadership: Inspire and Empower Excellence and Administration and Faculty Evaluation: Maximize Your Team's Capacity
  • Speaks at educational conferences, including CASE-NAIS, EMA, and AISAP
  • Facilitates Board and school leadership retreats

Prior Experience

Barbara joined ISM in 2011 after working in the field of education since 1996. She served as an ESL and adult literacy teacher at Boston University, MA; an upper school modern language teacher at the MacDuffie School, MA; and a language teacher and lead advisor at Collegiate School, VA. She also served as Academic Dean at Cape Henry Collegiate School, VA, where she oversaw curriculum and professional growth in grades PK−12.

While enrolled at Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, she attended a year of high school in France through School Year Abroad. She later lived in Spain and Brazil, where she learned Spanish and Portuguese.


Barbara holds a bachelor’s degree in French and Spanish from Trinity College, CT; a master’s degree in applied linguistics from Boston University, MA; a master’s degree in educational administration from Harvard University, MA; and a master’s degree in independent school leadership from the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, NY.

Personal Mission Statement

To cherish my work and to support and empower educators such that they cherish theirs.

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