Changes to final exams spark conversation in the York community

York students experience fatigue due to the stressful conditions of this school year. However, the change in final exams leaves many students and staff quite hopeful.

Photo by Jackie Cimino

York students experience fatigue due to the stressful conditions of this school year. However, the change in final exams leaves many students and staff quite hopeful.

CeCe Lampa, Editor-in-Chief: This is York

With the end of the semester rapidly approaching, many students’ minds are on the thought of finals and final exams. In most years, students would take anywhere from one to six final exams over the course of three days, each final lasting 90 minutes. However, as a result of the current remote schooling conditions, students will not have a final exam week. 

In order to accommodate students and teachers alike, the York administration talked with several different groups to find the best way to reflect a student’s progress throughout the semester.

“Our administration met with and gathered input from our department chairs, Principal Student Advisory, York Advisory (staff) and other administrators in surrounding districts,” Principal Dr. Bagdasarian said. “This is an unprecedented school year that requires everyone to adapt. Due to the stressors and concerns with the new learning format we felt that it was the right thing to do for our students.”

The overlying conditions decided on by the York administration were as follows: no final exam week, if finals are given, they can only be worth 10% of a student’s grade and each course needs to adapt the same approach to final exams. 

“I think it is nice that it’s scaled down since times right now are really hard,” freshman Isabella Pingel said. “But, then again, it makes me nervous for future years when I am taking harder classes and when we have a full-scale final.”

The flexibility present within the final exam outline is reflective of the flexibility present in the given school year. 

“York’s approach to finals this year gives teachers the flexibility to reimagine what it means to give a “final exam” and do something different for their students,” English department chair Kevin Poduska said. “It’s a win-win: students will still have opportunities to show their learning (or relearning) in the course (perhaps even better), and it lowers the stress level for everyone involved.”

York’s administration also recommended that teachers change final exams to meet the social-emotional needs of their students. With the major change in learning style, teachers need to focus on the emotional well being of all students, reducing their stress with less weighted or harmful final exams.

“This year is different,” science department chair Dr. Kirsten Mahoney said. “We need to prioritize social-emotional health and work together to support students. Changing the necessity of final exams may also help reduce the anxiety and stress that typically accompanies this time of year.”

Although the wellness of students is a main concern for the community, students also worry for the struggles of teachers with finals and remote learning as a whole.

“It’s been hard for the students,” senior Elena Martinez said. “But, better yet, I really can’t imagine what the teachers are going through with trying to have students stay engaged in class activities while also having their students move forward in their education. When it comes to finals, each teacher/subject team seems to have a different goal in mind.”

With the presence of these unprecedented times, parents and teachers alike are encouraged to support their students and help reduce their stress levels as the semester comes to a close.

“Our parents and teachers have been very supportive to our students,” Bagdasarian said. “Continue to encourage, listen and model empathy with our students. Student voice is so important as we navigate this school year and determine how to best ensure their success.” 

Although it has been a challenging semester for all, Martinez points out that we can only continue to work together through the end of 2020.

“All in all, it’s a tricky situation between balance and growth,” Martinez said. “All we can do is try our best to understand both sides and continue pushing through such a rollercoaster of a year.”