There’s the Scantron sheets, the short-tempered teachers and, of course, there’s the sweating.
Every student knows these can only mean one thing.
After 130 hours of sitting in a desk, students are forced to recall all the information they’ve learned for one 90-minute test, also know as the dreaded final exam.
Students have realized that teachers can select any question they choose, such as ‘What is the name of the tiny river that runs through Italy?’ that your teacher mumbled the answer to in the first five minutes on the second day of class.
Finals only count for 5-10 percent of your final course grade, but some students that stay up all night on ten cups of coffee studying argue that if a student has achieved an overall ‘A’ in the course, that the final exam should not be required.
“No [we shouldn’t have to] if you have an ‘A,’” said student Kelly Shertzer.
“Yeah, I wish we could be exempt from finals if we worked hard all semester to earn a solid ‘A’,” said student James Servansky.
“We should have an option. I don’t think you should have to if you have an ‘A,’ but if you have a ‘C,’ it can better your grade,” said student Amber Casey.
Local neighboring schools, like Hempfield, already have adopted a policy that is similar to what many of our students seem to like.
“Students that have an ‘A’ in a class both marking periods are exempt from taking the final exam in that particular class,” the Black Knight News reads.
And students here couldn’t be more thrilled with how Hempfield works.
“I heard Hempfield is like that. I’m jealous. It’s ridiculous,” said Shertzer.
But some teachers aren’t jumping on the Hempfield bandwagon just yet.
“I have mixed feelings,” said teacher Holly Astheimer, “When I was in high school, we had that policy, so you didn’t have to. But at the same time [if you don’t have the option,] you’re more responsible for retaining the information [throughout the course].”
Some schools, such as Wildwood School in Los Angeles, are even going as far as to completely remove final exams, and therefore creating a requirement of giving an oral presentation to demonstrate growth in the class.
“I think what politicians are hearing right now is that tests are driving the curriculum and narrowing the way kids learn,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor from Stanford University, in a report to the Los Angeles Times.
Even if the policy would ever change, the newly passed ‘Keystone exams’ or ‘exit tests’ might be the ultimate final exam for all students.
The Keystone exams are a series of tests given at the end of the four main courses, English, math, social studies and science as a graduation requirement, eventually replacing the PSSA tests, another favorite of students.
But these may not be the answer to the tears that run down students’ cheeks during finals.
“I don’t think testing is the only way to measure someone’s aptitude,” said Astheimer.
While the policy has no signs of changing right now, there’s no doubt that all students will be filling in the answer bubbles this year, whether they have a 99 or 59 percent.
By Mike Nitroy