By: Robbie McAnelly
The last week of the first semester of school is a bittersweet one for most students. The horror of final exams linger in the halls. In reality, students should not be required to participate in final exams due to their dwindling purpose.
If a student keeps good grades in school consistently, there really is no point in taking a week of out of their life to test them on information they have likely comprehended. An “A” in a class at the time of the final exam translates to an understanding of what is being taught in that class; therefore, a student who keeps a good grade in a certain class should not be expected to come to school and take a final exam in that class. Straight-A students would then be rewarded for their hard work with an extra week added to their winter vacation.
NAHS Spanish teacher Ms. Jamie Crick formerly taught at a Texas school, which offered such a system of final exam exemption.
“[There were] exemptions based on semester averages and attendance,” Crick said. “I don’t remember exact numbers, but as an example, if you had a 95 percent or higher for the semester, you could miss three days of class. If you had more absences than the number stated by the school, you would not get exemption.”
Some say final exams help prove if a student truly knows the material taught in school or if they simply cheated their way through the semester. Sure, a final exam could show who truly knows a semester’s worth of information in one test, but there is nothing stopping a cheater from cheating on a final exam as well. Cheating will always be a factor in the classroom; it should be the teacher’s responsibility to prevent students from succeeding in doing so.
According to Crick, the final exam exemptions did nothing to encourage cheating; in fact, it encouraged students to study more.
“[Final exam exemptions] did [work well]. They encouraged them to come to class during the semester. They encouraged good daily work and studying habits,” Crick said.
Not all students excel in any one part of school. Some are better at homework, some are better at tests, some are good at both, and even a few just aren’t that good at either. A final exam over information already covered seems to be a little obsolete. Some students remember things better piece by piece; not all of them can be expected to repeat a mass amount of information all at once.
Crick sees the lack of a final exam to gauge overall student learning as the only setback of the final exam exemption system.
“Final exams should be the big, summative assessment,” Crick said. “If the tests during the semester were not challenging, it may not have been a good representation of student learning during the semester. Final exams serve as a gauge on overall student learning.”
Final exams, while important in a collective sense, are a waste of time in a day-by-day sense. They are of even less importance to those who make good grades in class. Expecting a student to reiterate information they have progressively learned over a span of several months is asking way too much. The winter holiday in mind also makes for a lack of concentration.
Let students shine in the classroom day-by-day, not all at once at the end of the semester.