D99 moves away from traditional finals schedule

Sally Lichner

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Sally Lichner

The new finals schedule is similar to the regular bell schedule.

For the 2021 school semester, finals have been changed from their usual three-day, four-period, hour and a half schedule. Now, finals week is going to be four days of the week with eight periods that are 50 minutes in length: the exact same schedule as the regular day-to-day bell schedule. However, there are rules implemented to prevent all classes from providing a final every single day.

Different departments are only allowed to give tests or finals on certain days. On Tuesday and Thursday, Social Studies, Math, World Languages and CTE classes are allowed to give exams. On Wednesday and Friday, English, Science, Physical Ed/Health/Drivers Education and Fine Arts classes are allowed to give exams.

Principal of DGS Edward Schwartz feels that this new finals schedule is the right direction for students’ learning.

“We felt that there was too much instructional time lost for testing, and quite frankly over the last few years we’ve been working on assessments, so fewer and fewer classes are giving cumulative assessments anyhow,” Schwartz said.

When asked why he changed the schedule, Schwartz compared the finals schedule to what other institutions are evolving toward.

“To maximize learning time, because even colleges are going away from cumulative final exams,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz’s main reason for the new finals schedule was that most teachers were steering away from giving final exams, so most students wouldn’t even have to take a final in the first place.

“To devote three whole days to just doing nothing but testing, most people weren’t really testing that way anymore anyhow; we didn’t think it was a good use of [students’] time… Truth be told, if the teachers are not giving cumulative exams, it should feel more like a regular day. If they’re not cumulative and they’re not an hour and a half in length, there should be less to cram for, and just be more of a natural study that occurs throughout the semester already,” Schwartz said.

Although the board and higher administration are pleased with the new finals schedule, the same cannot be said for teachers and staff. Social studies teacher Robyn Fardy had some questions about the structural setup of the new final schedule.

“If I’m gonna give the last unit test, I’m going to have to give it on Thursday which leaves Friday as like this nebulous day… What are we supposed to do on Friday?” Fardy said.

Fardy continued to explain that she cannot utilize finals from previous years due to the new, two-day shortened finals schedule. She revealed that her lessons have to be changed and how this is a common plight of many other teachers.

“I’m not even giving a final exam in any of my classes… I think we can use things from last year and adapt, but we can’t just use what we did last year,” Fardy said.

When asked about feelings toward one finals schedule or the other, Fardy admitted to perfering the older one more. She also explained how she feels the old final schedule prepared students better for testing at future institutions.

“I vastly prefer the old final schedule. For students especially, they can focus on the exams they have the next day… We know that’s how finals work in college and that’s how finals have traditionally worked in high school,” Fardy said.

Fardy compared and contrasted her feelings from the old finals schedule to the new finals schedule.

“There’s only potentially three in a day, and then they are done by 1:30 and can go home and use the rest of the day to study or complete projects or papers or anything like that; take a mental break, go workout, hang out, go to a job. Now, not only do students have to take potentially more exams in a day, they could potentially have four exams in one day. But then they also have to attend the rest of their classes and complete whatever activities are happening in those classes on that day too, so it seems actually way more stressful to students,” Fardy said.

Not only are students impacted by this final schedule, but teachers must adapt to it as well. Fardy disclosed the stress that the finals schedule actually ends up placing on teachers and how it affects their grading time.

“From the teacher perspective, those hours in the afternoon were used for grading. Now that time has been taken away from me too, so now I’m going to spend my winter break grading exams, rather than using those school days grading exams, which cuts into my time off with my family,” Fardy said.

Fardy acknowledged that although the new finals schedule may appear as a positive thing, it didn’t turn out the way parents and administration planned.

“It doesn’t work out in the way I think they intended it to. It’s not as student-centered as they claim it was,” Fardy said.

Although the new finals schedule may cause some problems to arise for teachers, especially in their curriculum, students seem indifferent to the new schedule. Some students feel strongly against the new finals schedule as it brings new challenges along with it. Senior Maya Santos shared the stress she feels in her classes this year due to the change.

“I am one hundred times more stressed than I’ve ever been for any other finals season. We can’t leave early so I have less time to study. Also, there are finals on multiple days, so there is too much all in one time,” Santos said.

Senior Liana O’Rourke compared the old finals schedule to the new finals schedule.

“I like the old schedule because you are able to manage your time more because you are only taking certain finals each day, and you can leave early. I feel like with the current schedule you’re still doing a lot of projects and quizzes in your other classes on top of finals,” O’Rourke said.

What might the future of finals look like? Well, Schwartz claims that this somewhat new finals schedule might be here for the long run.

“Right now we are changing it to this… We have no plans to switch back,” Schwartz said.