This past finals test schedule was changed from a three day final to a two day final, causing much outrage.
One student said, “It put way too much pressure on the students, as well as many of the teachers.”
“Seems like the schools care more about efficiency than the well being and success of the students,” another student complained.
This discussion was introduced last spring when the administration of Fargo Public Schools came together to reevaluate finals.
Principal Andrew Dahlen said, “Are final exams really a good thing for students to experience, or is there a better way to show that students have learned the material. Is it even worthwhile to have final exams? Maybe we are giving it too much importance.”
This is what was discussed at the spring meeting. A solution was a new finals schedule. This one included two days, instead of three for taking the tests. They decreased the length of each final to 1 hour and 35 minutes instead of the usual 1 hour and 55 minutes. Teachers also had the option to decide whether to give finals or not. However, about 50% of teachers still did a final exam.
Dahlen said, “I was not in favor of it [the two day finals schedule], but I was not able to convince the other two buildings… It’s additional stress on students. How do you really get prepared for a potential four exams in one day.”
Many teachers were also not in favor of the new two day finals schedule.
“I did not and I still don’t [support the two day finals schedule]. I don’t think it’s in the best interest of students or teachers,” said David Volk.
For example, teachers had a harder time grading everything due to the lack of time, especially if their tests included written responses.
“I saw the kids who have really rigorous schedules over stressed. In fact, I have rarely seen kids cry during finals, but I had a couple instances of kids crying. I’d honestly have to say they were overstressed,” said Volk.
Rachel Consdorf is another teacher who saw harm in the new two day finals schedule. She saw that it affected her final tests, and her procedure.
“It took away some of my time to review with students before the final began due to the shortening of the final exam class period… I had to cut my tests down,” said Consdorf.
Consdorf also didn’t like that the two day finals schedule did not provide a time for make up tests.
“Imagine if you were gone one or two days of the finals, because you were sick,” said Consdorf. In the new finals schedule, if someone missed finals, they would have to make up every single final in their own time. This could take weeks.
The students themselves were the ones who were impacted the most. Many had negative experiences. Data from a poll showed that about 40% of students found the two day finals schedule to be more stressful than before, 37.3% thought it hurt their performance, and 63.1% preferred the three day finals schedule.
One student said, “It gives us less time to study, gives the teachers less time to grade and makes both of us more exhausted mentally and physically.”
Another student commented, “The more finals per day, the less I can focus on the later finals. Negatively affecting my scores.”
This change has prompted some students to question other aspects of finals. One student said finals should be before winter break. While another questioned,“Why do we have finals?”
However, not all the responses were negative.
“I did like that we ended when the buses would be here,” said Dahlen.
Furthermore, 16.5% of students preferred the two day finals schedule.
One student commented, “It was less stressful than years before, because not all the teachers did finals. They did projects or other activities instead.”
Another said, “Less days to worry about, so less stress.”
“Loved it!” exclaimed another.
Even some of the teachers preferred the two day final.
“I knew of one teacher who was excited about it, because then they could cover more content,” said Consdorf.
Still, these few positive comments don’t stop many from advocating for a change back to the old three day finals schedule.
Consdorf said, “Yes [I see a need to go back to a three day final], if we all continue to give final exams. I think it should be 3 days or 0 days.”
A student said, “The three day schedule is necessary to keep the students mentally sane and less stressed.”
“Change it back to three days!!!” demanded another.
The finals schedule is back on the administration’s agenda, but Dahlen warned, “If nobody addresses their concern, it will likely stay.” Therefore, if students truly want the three day finals schedule to come back, then they need to contact their friends from Davies or South, and urge them to bring their concerns before their school.