The 2017-2018 school year was new for Solon High School. This was the first year that SHS didn’t require students to take a final exam. Few students understood why, but rarely did students complain. Students have been happy to be relieved of the stress of taking a huge test.
This decision caused controversy among some staff members though. Chemistry teacher Susan Kenzig believes finals should never have been removed because of the studying students have to do.
“Preparing for midterms and finals is different than studying for a unit test so more practice would be encouraged,” Kenzig said. “I would have preferred that finals be given and given at all grade levels.”
On the other hand, Assistant Principal Erica Kosiorek thinks the removal of finals helps students with stress relief.
“The majority of our students have many high stakes end of the year testing including AP Exams and end of course testing which can be interpreted as final exams,” Kosiorek said. “We determined final exam grades were not as meaningful.”
Agreeing with Kosiorek is Junior Benji Grossman, who believes that finals were too much of a stressor.
“We already get tested so much during the year,” Grossman said. “By taking them away students are much less stressed at the end of the year.”
In contrast, former SHS student and current freshman at Vanderbilt Sammie Rosen believes that finals help students get ready for college exams.
“After taking a few college exams, they are all structured like [high school] finals,” Rosen says. “In a college class, 90 percent of your grade can be determined by two tests.”
Kenzig is in agreement with Rosen.
“I believe one of the things we are supposed to do at the high school level is get you ready for college, many college courses give a midterm and final,” Kenzig said. “By taking finals away, students have less opportunity to learn how to take exams that cover more than just a chapter or unit.”
Although Solon does have a midterm, this does not have as big of an impact on your final grade as a final does. After a midterm, a student has two quarters and a final exam left to boost their grade. But, after a final, a student is out of choices and has no other way of getting their grade up.
Kosiorek argues that finals are lacking the most important part of an assessment that happens after it.
“There is no opportunity for feedback which we feel is the most valuable part of assessments,” Kosiorek said.
Rosen also believes that finals help grades and students’ futures as well.
“I brought my grades up a full letter grade many times in high school with finals,” Rosen said. “My GPA would have been very different and I might even be at a different University without them.”
All in all, the removal of finals has not sat well with everyone, including staff, but it looks like finals won’t be making a comeback anytime soon.