by Diana Tang and Lei Lei Wu
This year, the school district has removed finals and midterms from the high school curriculum. Students will no longer have to take the three part midterms and finals; they will now have four full days of school at the end of the year, which were previously designated as shortened finals days.
Why has this change come about? “I think the rationale has to do with the school moving more towards common assessments and away from cumulative midterms and cumulative finals. I don’t think it made a lot of sense to have common assessments, which were assessing the same things as midterms and finals, so I think [the administration was] seeing that as kind of a duplication,” guidance counselor Lee Riley said. With so much testing—common assessments, midterms, finals, and the PARCC—the district is seeking to both reduce the pressure on students and increase the instruction time of the teachers.
Some students are rejoicing at this new change as well. “I think that having a large cumulative test doesn’t properly assess your level of understanding of something because it’s easy to cram for a midterm, and how well you do is just how effective you are at cramming,” Senior Alex Michalowski said.
However, others are not so happy with the elimination of finals. “I think that it’s actually unfortunate that the midterms and finals are going away because it means that we have to work harder during the marking periods since they’re weighted heavier now,” Junior Uday Shankar said. “It kind of helps to have one shot to fix your grade or give it the little boost it needs to go from a B to an A.”
Some classes, though, are relatively unaffected by the change. Most of the language classes will still follow the previous three part guidelines, with separate speaking, writing, and reading components. French teacher Eric Loveland said, “For us, the language teachers, it’s kind of neutral. I don’t really know about the other disciplines, but I like not having midterm and final deadlines because it gives me more flexibility to go over what the students really need to know.”
Physics teacher Regina Celin outlined the dilemma teachers were facing due to this change. “With teaching up until the very last day of the year, we’re going to have to figure out ways to keep [the class] interesting for everyone instead of just doing things to fill time.” This then brings up the predicament involving seniors. Previously, seniors were incentivized to maintain an A in their courses in exchange for finals exemption. Clearly, with no finals, this policy is no longer in place. Teachers still have no definite solution to this issue, but they are willing to address the lack of senior participation if it does pose a problem. “I think that seniors will have to take the good with the bad,” Riley said. “Yes, they’re going to be here right up until the day of graduation, but they don’t have to prepare for finals, which I know is stressful even for seniors.”