This will be the second semester that schools have had to decide on cumulative final exams. In the spring semester, many schools opted out of forcing students to complete their finals. With the pandemic, it forced so much new onto parents, teachers, and school districts. For some, calling the semester “a wash” was fine.
Flash forward many months later, many schools are winding down at the end of the semester. For many schools, there are only a couple of weeks left of the semester and just seven instructional days. Final exams are typically a stressful time of year, but the pandemic has seemed to amplify that by tenfold. For that reason, many schools are opting to cancel finals once again.
With the challenges presented by the pandemic, students and families are already stressed enough. Across the United States, administrators are electing to eliminate final exams and use regular instruction days instead. Others are implementing a policy that finals can only positively impact your grade like bonuses.
In some districts, students have been completing classes using the Edgenuity online platform. For those students, they will be complete with their class once they reach the final exam review. In the past, students have used this platform as credit recovery, but school staff has tried to align their curriculum to the platform.
For these reasons, canceling final exams was due to two reasons. For starters, coordinating exams when students are not together is nearly an impossible task. Another reason is the lack of need for a final test. Districts feel that students have done enough to show mastery over the semester and don’t need a final exam to prove otherwise.
Depression & Anxiety
Depressions are a mood disorder that causes constant feelings of sadness and loss of interest. Another name for depression is major depressive disorder or clinical depression. It can affect how you feel, think, act, and lead to various emotional and physical problems. If you are feeling any of these symptoms, you may feel that life is not worth living.
For some students, they have had to battle mental illness, their regular home life, and the battle of schoolwork. For students struggling with depressions, this was another key factor to why some schools don’t want to add another layer to the onion that is remote learning. There is no cure for depression. There is not a magic pill that you can swallow and it magically goes away. However, there are ways to prevent these feelings. One of the basic rules of preventing depression is finding a routine that works for you. Other coping mechanisms include exercise, therapy, and finding someone to talk with.
The Impact On Grades
Some feel that taking away finals is wrong. School is supposed to be a place where we teach our student’s knowledge and help them grow academically. Assessments are used to measure how much the student understood from a lesson. In particular, finals measure how much they can apply from what they learned in a semester. By taking away finals, some teachers feel that this lessens the validity of their grade in the class.
There could be some truth to that. When following Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning, we start with remembering and understanding when we learn something new. Then, we are hopeful to grow to applying and analyzing. By the time finals rolls around, students are hopeful they can evaluate and create. Without finals, how can we truly measure this progress?
Is This The Right Move?
Some schools have been on a hybrid learning schedule since the beginning of the year. These schools have had students in-person attending every other day. Other schools have had students attend every day. For these schools that have had consistent in-person instruction, having a final exam would be okay. There were a routine and instruction was given. consistently
For students that have had to learn remotely all semester, canceling finals is the right decision. For many students, they have had to battle many variables. While those on the outside believe that missing a class should prompt a behavioral referral, what they don’t know is that there is so much going on behind that turned off the camera. Many students are trying their best to get through this semester, but some teachers just don’t know the struggle.
Some students are battling Internet issues. Some students still don’t even have the Internet and the semester is over. Other students have had to assume the role of caregiver while their parents are out. Punishing students with a rigorous final exam is not the right play here. Kids have had to learn new branches of technology on the go from tablets to foldable smartphones. To the districts that are providing grace to these students, they should be applauded.