By: Mere Strickland
The last few weeks of school: stress-filled, sudden, and fastly approaching. Of course, the end of school is expected to be met with stress, but is this really necessary? Being new to high school I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with this type of stress until now. I have lost the love for the work I produce, and the classes I originally enjoyed. A lot of it is due to sudden work, and of course FINALS. This year most are blessed with the fact that a lot of departments have decided to not give finals, however, that isn’t the case for everyone. Those stuck with finals are put under the pressure of worrying about how much this will affect their grades, and if they’re even ready. They’re sleeping less, eating less, and not spending time with their family and friends. This reality is scary, especially since high school is supposed to be some of the best years of your life; where you do most of your growing. This made me think, that maybe we shouldn’t have finals. To make a drastic statement like that I had to go look for the facts.
Finals make up a large amount (5%) of someone’s grade, a very make-or-break situation. To some this can be a good thing, it can bring a failing grade up to a passing one in just one exam. But the opposite is also true. A passing grade can fall to a failing one easily. The opinion of some is that finals are useful because it shows that a person has been paying attention. A final test is a perfect way to tie the entire year together. On paper that makes sense, but in reality, not every person has that perfect of a memory, and not every person can accomplish their best in a standardized testing format. When you look at real students, students around us right now, finals are affecting them mentally and physically. Students are tired, overworked, burnt out, and they’re not even being paid to do any of this. Most, if not all, are proudly against the idea of finals, myself included. But, is there an alternative?
The best, in my opinion, would be independent research projects. Students not only enjoy being given the choice to do what they want, but it’s also developmentally a better idea. When being prompted to make independent choices, none with exact instructions exposes the creativity and intellect of a student. This does not mean that all students would be required to do some original fantastical project, it could be as simple as a paper or slideshow presentation. The important part is that it is deemed by personal choice. In a lot of recent studies, Project-based learning has been deemed a significantly better option when it comes to learning new information in the classroom. It could potentially replace “standard” learning and tests altogether. It also comes with the benefit of not being so harmful to the student that they develop problems like anxiety, stress disorders, or depression.
In the end, finals, and tests in general, aren’t so bad. However, they are also not needed. There are many, many, other forms that can expose how much a person has learned without the damage of a test. Being a student is already hard enough in high school, you have to navigate through your first real experience of society, in college you have to struggle with money, shelter, and debts, there are always new problems around the corner. People shouldn’t have to worry about some final when they are already handling all these other challenges. For once, students need a break, they need some sort of sympathy shown to them. And a good start would be eliminating finals.
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