Finals no longer benefits students

Graphic via Pixabay


Graphic via Pixabay

Prowler Staff

Finals do not accurately represent the knowledge that students acquire over the course of a semester. Thus, District 202 should permanently remove the practice of dispensing final exams.

The exams used to serve the purpose of testing what a student learned over the course of each semester. However, with the tests being so heavily weighted, students were spending unnecessary time going to great lengths to shove possibly forgotten parts of the curriculum into their memory the days before the test date. Therefore, the exams have nothing to do with long-term learning or meaningful education, but rather they test to weed out those students who studied and put material into their short-term memory from the others who didn’t. 

Prior to the pandemic, District 202 teachers traditionally gave district assessments that counted as 20 percent of a student’s semester grade. On Oct. 25, 2021, the Plainfield Board of Education supported waiving final exams for first semester. This allowed students who were actively learning throughout the course of the semester to end with a grade that reflected 18 weeks of study. The students with a better understanding of concepts throughout the semester, had grades that directly correlated with higher scores. By adding a final exam, students with lower grades could unfairly improve their average simply by doing well on the assessment. The results of one test should not dismiss the pattern of test scores and in-class learning that happens over the course of months. 

Instead, District 202 should aim its curriculum and testing practices towards long-term knowledge retention. Many North  teachers have changed to weekly quizzes, which, according to a 2015 study at Vanderbilt University, “will increase learning of targeted as well as related material.” The increase of smaller quiz-style assessments helps with information retention because it encourages interactions at the synapses in one’s brain to happen frequently and over time as opposed to memorizing and forgetting. 

Finals, in their current format, are too heavily weighted and force a student to rely on their short-term memory to save or keep their grade afloat. To provide meaningful education, it is necessary that final exams be taken off of their pedestal, and that the grading process be shifted to value learning over time as opposed to singular tests.