Moving fall finals is a formula for failure


Because school started later due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fall semester finals have been moved to January 12-14, 2021. Although this decision may have seemed like a good one at the time, moving finals to after the winter break, is a setup for disaster.

Students go their whole lives listening to teachers talk about “after about two weeks students begin to forget the majority of what they’ve learned over the school year”. If this is the case, then students should definitely be worried about hanging onto the knowledge they learned during the first semester if they’re supposed to take finals after exactly two weeks of break. After winter break, it is likely that many students will have forgotten information that is crucial to their success on the final exam, which could result in massive grade drops that would reflect poorly on students, teachers, and the school alike. 

Having finals post-break is also very unfair to the teachers. If the majority of students do make bad grades on their finals, that poor reflection will be cast upon the teachers. The only way to avoid that possibility would be for teachers to spend the weeks after break intensely going over information they’ve already taught. While it is true that many teachers do have a habit of briefly going over early material, in order to counteract the effects of the breaks, teachers will likely have to dedicate even more time to going over information that was recently taught. Putting teachers in a position where the only way they are not reflected poorly on requires them to do even more work than normal, in the middle of a pandemic, is not fair to them when they already deal with so much. 

Teachers have been given the choice to make their final exams optional, a decision made by the district just days before schools dismissed for winter break. This left many teachers and students pondering what they were going to do to either alleviate the stress of a post-break final exam, or hold students accountable for their mastery of the subject. Many teachers chose to give an additional major assignment in place of taking an exam, and some even chose to give students the option to be exempt, use a high major grade, or take the exam, based on their current grade in the course. Giving the teachers the opportunity to make the decision has students confused, overwhelmed, and relieved, all at the same time. 

Some might argue that since students have a two-week long break, they can have even more time to study, but this notion negates the entire concept of a winter break. For those that actually celebrate the Christmas holiday, rather than being able to focus on time with family or religious devotion, those students will be stressed out over studying for exams that should have happened prior to the break. Even for those who aren’t celebrating over the winter break, making students study during their vacation time steals their ability to relax and detox from the stress of school before the spring semester. With a pandemic currently weighing on everyone’s mind and causing many people a bunch of anxiety, studying for final exams should not be an added stress over the holiday break.

While the decision to have final exams post-winter break may have been good in theory, it will play out poorly in practice. This choice will put a bigger stress and workload on both teachers and students alike, and the outcomes of the finals will reflect poorly on everyone involved.