Snow day woes: a call for Kirkwood to adapt finals
December 17, 2019
A snow day is usually a cause for universal excitement among students, but on Sunday, Dec. 15, the announcement was met with widespread anxiety. Monday’s snow day would eliminate a valuable day of review before finals week. When Tuesday, was called off as well, panic intensified. KSD announced that school would be canceled on the first day of finals and students will make up their second-hour exam after winter break. For many students, this change means a more stressful break and a more difficult final. Beyond that. missed days will affect all exams since students will not have been in class for between four and six days before they take the final. Online materials and out-of-class work are not sufficient to prepare students for the most influential tests of the semester. Changes to testing under these circumstances are not unprecedented, as some school districts have already opted for optional or risk-free finals. The bottom line is the added stress of these cancellations will undoubtedly affect grades this semester, and KSD needs to adjust exams accordingly.
The outright panic over missing these two days exposes a larger problem with the entire system of final exams: the fact that so much pressure is put on the outcome of a four-day testing marathon, outweighing months of work during the year. At this point, students have been in school for four months. A student’s current grade in each class represents a cumulative effort compiled over all of the assignments and tests since the start of the year. And yet, in one two-hour testing period, a student could compromise all of their hard work. For some, the final is an important opportunity to improve their grade. Students with a percentage close to a cutoff have a chance to work hard and push themselves to that next letter grade. But the emphasis should be on giving students the chance to improve themselves, not the pressure to justify the work they’ve already put in. Not to say the outcome of one final could drive an A, B or even C grade into downright flunking a class, but even dropping a single letter grade will have lasting effects on a student’s transcript and GPA. This pressure is an annual problem during finals week, but this year it is compounded by the fact that we’ve now missed two valuable days of review. For a regular test in any class, this drastic change in schedule would almost certainly mean a change in plans. So for a test as important as the final, the same should be true.
Districts like Wentzville, Lindbergh, Francis Howell, and Fort Zumwalt have already shifted their exam schedule due to the snow days, making some or all of the finals optional or risk-free (they can only help your grade). Kirkwood should follow the lead of these districts and adapt to the unique circumstances of this finals week. With the missed review time and last-minute schedule changes, students are bound to underperform on their exams this semester. Finals should be made risk-free, like at Wentzville, to give students the chance to bolster their grade, but not sink it. We have to remember that the purpose of school is learning and improvement, not threat of failure.
When the KHS administration makes their next decisions, they need to prioritize the wellbeing of students as other districts have done, even if this means making some unprecedented changes. No one could control the weather but they can decide how we adapt and give students the best chances of success despite this unexpected obstacle. I would ask them to remember the intent of the school is not to work against students, but to encourage their advancement.
If you agree that KSD should make changes to finals this year sign this petition.
*Disclaimer: This is not the opinion of The Kirkwood Call as a whole. TKC itself does not have a stance on changes to finals. The petition is sponsored by students not TKC.