A policy change will give students more reasons to take official, college-level exams after they finish rigorous classes. [File photo]
One of the most soul-crushing feelings for a high school students is watching their grade drop an entire letter grade right at the end of the quarter.
This horror becomes a reality come the first few weeks of December as teachers enter last minute, heavily weighted test grades. These exams may determine whether students will receive the grade they desire, which in-turn determines whether the student can exempt the midterm of that class.
This is an extremely flawed system that could lead to kids losing usage of one of their three exemptions and build up compound stress from consecutive anxiety-boosting, grade-altering exams.
Practically, a student could be content with receiving Bs for first and second quarter in a given class and exempting the class’ midterm, securing a B for the semester. However, they could be unable to study for a test in the second week of December, leading to their average for their class slipping to a 79.
Students in this situation may not be able to bring up their grade, and will therefore lose their ability to exempt for that class. This will most likely lead to stress in students who now have to perform extremely well on the now fifth midterm they have to take to acquire their desired grade.
So, what are the most crucial impacts of these end-of-the-quarter tests?
Well, from an aerial view, these tests cause elevated stress levels in students as they await their final grade, checking Pinnacle every five seconds. Then, a week later, they have to shape up and prep for at least four extensive tests over the course of four days, leaving them under even more pressure. Finally, they will have to wait on their midterm grade, causing additional anxiety.
This process facilitates tension that builds on itself rapidly and from various angles in the beginning and middle of December.
Winter break is just around the corner and is a much-needed reprieve, but overloading students will the most anxiety possible, potentially leaving them disappointed in themselves with no immediate chance at redemption, is not an efficient way to keep students happy and healthy.
Ideally, students will frolic into winter break with pride for the effort they put in for the first semester and satisfaction with the grades that they earned. The return would be seen when students return to school more refreshed, enthused and optimistic in the new year.
Yet, these end-of-the-quarters exams continue to exist and quite frankly, there really is no counter as to why these last-minute tests are a good idea.
Typically, teachers like to speak about how their class will prepare students for college, yet this is a fallacy as it would be extremely abnormal for a massive exam to precede a college midterm or final.
The current system really doesn’t give students a fair shake as they aren’t able to get a head start on midterm prep as they still have to keep their quarter grades up.The variety of negative effects on students crush them as they attempt to put the finishing touches on a full semester of work.
It is hard to be a highschool student. There is no need to exacerbate the issues that students face as they attempt to wrap up the quarter.
What is most sad about the central concept is that a student can crush it from August through November and then ruin all of that hard work with a bad test performance or two. This puts so much stress on the shoulders of students.
Additionally, it is a lot more likely to experience test anxiety with the knowledge that so much of your work is on the line with a single test since each answer you chose will determine whether or not you have to take an even more difficult test the following week.
According to the American Test Anxiety Association, about 16 to 20 percent of students have high test anxiety.This means that nearly five students per class period may suffer severe mental health episodes from last-minute tests. While this is the most significant of possible outcomes, it is not the only troublesome one.
There are students with anger issues, depression, and learning difficulties whose issues could be worsened by these additional pressures.
Essentially, as if it were not hard enough to continue to push through the waning weeks of the first semester, students are being slammed with tests and it’s an issue.
Extremely stressed and hard-pressed to continue to succeed in their classes, students will be overworked and anxious for the quarter to end. Yet, they have to battle and ensure that they don’t slip up or the stress will compound just in time for midterm week.
If teachers wanted to see the maximum performance from their students, they would take this issue into account and schedule their last tests of the quarter at least three class periods before midterms.
This solution would give students time to fully study for their normal tests and midterms, allow them to not lose midterm exemptions because all of their grades would be finalized before forms are due, and have additional in-class midterm reviews
Making changes to account for the mental health of students will not only keep students safe but also give teachers a better success rate and cause them to be better respected amongst the student body. Mutually beneficial solutions must be found for the conclusion of the second quarter.