Summer 2004 - Issue 16
It's Too Darn Hot!
Students at High Point have been coping with the horrors of finals for over a decade. Occurring at the end of each semester and worth twenty percent of the semester grade, finals are always met with apprehension and fear. The countless homework assignments, challenging tests, and day to day participation still have emphasis on the students' overall grade; however, the final exam is such a large portion of the grade that students overlook the effort they put in over the course of the semester and treat the final as the most important contribution to their semester grade.
Student Council has noticed the increasing stress level surrounding final season and has decided to ask the administration to decrease the value of finals in the overall semester grade. The idea behind this is to make the final exams seem more approachable to students as many students agree that it is not the difficulty of the tests but the amount they are worth that causes the anxiety to reach such a high level.
Many High Point students in the Junior High are in full support of Student Council's idea.
"Finals are too stressful," says Stephen R., who is in the Seventh Grade. "Studying becomes too time consuming, and I hope that they are reduced to anywhere between fifteen and ten percent of the semester grade."
Glen W., who is also in the Seventh Grade, expresses his opinions regarding finals very bluntly. "I hate finals," he says. Although he admits that they have not yet affected his grade negatively, he still thinks that they invoke too much stress. In Glen's opinion, finals "screw up the whole semester."
Eighth graders' opinions are similar to the opinions of the seventh graders, particularly
regarding the unbearable stress during finals season.
"I only study for three to four hours, but I still feel very stressed," explains Katja N.
"There have been cases where a final has lowered my grade just enough so that I couldn't get an elusive 'plus' in front of my 'A'," says Charlotte L.
Ray H., on the other hand, hopes that finals remain at twenty percent of the semester grade. "That's how my English grade stays at an 'A'. I'm a good test-taker and I know that I can skip a few homework assignments because finals will cover for me."
Marissa R., who is currently a sixth grader in Mrs. Tortell's class, already expresses her fear of finals. "I think that decreasing finals' value would be better for students because it would decrease stress, and careless errors on the final exam wouldn't hurt the semester grades as much."
A number of the junior high teachers hope that Student Council can make a convincing case to the administration and lower the value of finals.
"The goal of the school is to give the students a positive exam experience," says Mr. Diggs, "and the high value of finals makes them seem almost like a penalty." He understands that finals are challenging and that kids who aren't good test-takers encounter problems. "Test-taking involves maturity, and we're still growing in junior high."
Mr. Millard, who is the junior high math teacher, points out that many schools don't use finals at all, and he says that he has only seen them hurt students' grades. Although he hopes that Student Council will successfully convince the administration to lower finals' value, he states that "Big ships turn slowly."
In lowering the value of final exams, Student Council hopes to make a positive change to High Point that will benefit the future junior high students when final season rolls around.
Because of the intense faculty and student support and the administration's desire to help students grow and succeed, Mr. Higgins, Mrs. Shwartz, and the junior high teachers have chosen to decrease the value of seventh grade finals to 10%, which is cutting the amount they were worth in half. In consideration of the eighth grade, the faculty decided to leave their finals at 20%, with the hope that this will adequately prepare them for high school, where finals may be worth an even larger portion of semester grades.
The hope is that the new policy for finals will allow for an easier transition into junior high, so that by the time students reach the eighth grade they are prepared to handle finals that are worth 20% with ease and confidence. -- Tara G.