For high-school students, the end of the fourth-marking period means the dreaded week of final exams. In a typical year, students cram in studying while trying to recall information from September to June.
However, in a school year like no other, Dr. Neigel recently made the executive choice to cancel final exams.
This was ultimately the right decision.
Administering exams this year would have been difficult in a multitude of ways. One of the biggest concerns is academic misconduct. Adapting to a virtual environment has challenged teachers in the ways they assess their students. Inevitably, teenagers have a lot more resources at home, and cheating is more accessible.
BHS chemistry teacher, Mrs. Whitlock, stated, “I don’t know of any way of assessing chemistry fairly via tests from a remote setting.” Similarly, geometry teacher, Ms. Boyce, mentioned that phone and internet usage would result in an unequal assessment. Mrs. Snyder agreed with this: “I cannot fathom a way that a final exam could be administered fairly with some students at home.”
Along with teachers, this school year has continued to challenge students in an abundance of ways. From trying to focus in a virtual environment despite distractions, to adjusting to constant schedule changes and coping with contact-tracing, students had to continuously adapt to this crazy school year. The last thing that high-schoolers need is the added stress and anxiety of final exams.
Bernard’s High School teachers are working hard to substitute assignments in for the absence of finals. Mrs. Whitlock plans to have her honors students prepare 10-minute chemistry lessons, while her AP students are “preparing presentations on great discoveries in chemistry and on SuperFund sites in NJ.” Additionally, Mrs. Snyder hopes to “incorporate a more project or portfolio-based final,” while Ms. Boyce is considering “giving a test that focuses on information that would be on the final which would count as a test grade in marking period 4.”
BHS teachers and students agree with the decision to cancel finals. Dr. Neigel reminds BHS that in a year like no other, “using final exams to assess students in a hybrid model is logistically problematic and does not provide an appropriate opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding of the content.”
Ultimately, Dr. Neigal reminds BHS that in a year like no other, “using final exams to assess students in a hybrid model is logistically problematic and does not provide an appropriate opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding of the content.”