Final exams or no final exams, that is the question

Ella Gray, Editor-in-chief

Announced December 12th, the semester final exams have been erased from the RPS205 school district. Until recently, final exams (also called finals) were always mandatory, every student had to take them. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, finals were optional. 

Optional finals meant that students could opt out of one, two or all of their final exams. Beginning in 2021, optional finals could only positively impact your grade in a class. Many students realized that if they already had a good grade, they did not have to take a final exam. Nonetheless, finals are changing once again, but this change is looking to be permanent. 

“It was a district decision, all the high schools are doing it,” said Jim Parker, building principal. 

There are no longer any finals. Now during the week where normal finals would take place, there is just another normal week of school. This decision has both its pros and cons. 

The most obvious con is that students who have a lower grade in a class can’t rely on the finals to pass their class or get a higher grade. 

“I feel bad [for the students who have a low grade in a class]. They probably are panicking like ‘How am I going to bring my grade up?’ I just hope for the best for them,” said Jay Lee, class of 2025. 

Another issue will be that students will not be able to stay home or go home early after taking the final. Although not seeming to be an initial issue, some students use that week to catch up on sleep and relax from the semester. 

“[The week] gave all the kids who worked hard throughout the semester a break…I think it was well deserved,” said Lee. 

Although negative effects seem to be the direct result of taking away final exams, there are positive effects. For one, students are in school more, so they have more of an opportunity to ask for help and improve their grades with multiple assignments and tests instead of one big test.

“[Not having finals] will give [students] three more days to solidify their grade…I would rather have kids in school for six more days,” said Parker. 

Another benefit is for teachers. With optional exams, they didn’t typically have many students show up to take the final. 

“The last time [we had finals] I had I think 6 students out of 140 total students,” said Carol Johnston, science teacher.  

A new rule added this year stating that students can turn work in until the end of the unit has contributed to not many students coming for finals, mainly because they didn’t need to. 

“If we are going to run school where you have deadline at the end of a unit and there’s more flexibility about turning in work and etcetera, and if finals were only going to be no harm or hold harmless then I believe that getting rid of [the finals] was the right thing to do,” said Johnston. 

There are definitely good and bad things that come from removing finals, but are there any alternatives to finals? 

“Other than going back to the way things were I don’t know what the answer is,” said Johnston. 

Looking at it, it seems that having no finals is going to be our future for a while. Of course there are some problems and some benefits, but maybe someone, someday will come up with a solution.