The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

Staff Profile

New Finals at City: An Over-the-Top Nuisance

New+Finals+at+City%3A+An+Over-the-Top+Nuisance

Students sit in their classroom on Wednesday of finals week, anxiously awaiting the moment the bell rings and their class final will start. They are given the test, and some of them are confident and go right into it. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. 

This year the City High School administration implemented a new trimester finals policy. At the end of every trimester, there are two days designated for taking large tests. This is a bad idea for several  reasons. One, the stress that it puts on students; two, the stress of grading that it puts on teachers; and lastly, the argument for their so-called “college prep” benefit is pointless.

First, students already have enough work to do in high school. This just creates one more obstacle they have to worry about–no, three more obstacles. There are seven periods of classwork, as well as students with jobs, family responsibilities, time spent on sports, arts, clubs, and whatever they might actually want to be doing instead of studying for a final.

Also, the new finals policy completely disregards some students who have problems with test anxiety. Each final is a huge test that determines a large chunk of their grade, so it’s one of the highest pressure scenarios possible. A lot of students don’t function well under this kind of pressure, so it’s completely unfair to base a large portion of grades off of this final. For example, in one of my classes, the final was my worst test of the year, and it took my grade down from a solid A to a B+ at an 89 after I had done all the homework and done well on the other tests all trimester. The test anxiety issue is especially important when you factor in that most finals don’t allow for retakes, whereas almost every other test in the school year does.

This finals policy also harms teachers, because it requires them to make a huge final for students to do for every trimester. Then, they have to grade at least five periods’ worth of finals, which amounts to about 100 to 120 finals to grade for every teacher. This simply creates extra work for the teachers that just wasn’t there before.

Next, this policy might actually be detrimental to learning, and here is why: it takes three valuable weeks, one each trimester, away from learning more interesting material in class. This forces the teachers to cut down on a few days of learning new things in class, especially when you factor in the time spent reviewing for these finals too.

It also doesn’t even have the benefit of college prep like everyone says it would. This is because of City High’s vast abundance of AP classes. City has 5 AP history courses, 4 AP math courses, 4 AP science courses, 4 AP English, and more. These are specifically made to be college-level courses, and they’re available in many subjects here. If students want to be really prepared for college, they could take those.

Our AP classes are better at providing the same college prep benefits and academic rigor as finals, because they give a year-round college prep experience, but the end-of-year AP exam is not required. There is also always the option to take an AP class but not take its corresponding test. If the administration doesn’t think that enough students are doing these AP tests, the better solution here would be to remove the cost barrier to AP tests. The school could use funds to pay directly for students to take the AP test at the end of the year, rather than having them pay $98 per test, which amounts to a lot of money, very quickly. Another option would be to have students create some kind of final project at the end of the year, or trimester, for the classes that only last that long. This would alleviate the test anxiety concerns because there is no one, huge test that determines everything in the space of 45 minutes.  There is no benefit to creating these finals as opposed to simple AP classes, or some kind of spaced out final project where you’re still learning new stuff. 

Finals are a nuisance better left at some prep school nobody likes, and where everyone makes fun of you if you say you went there.

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