Out of 22 Carmel High School teachers interviewed, some of whom have multiple classes, only 10 this year are holding an actual written final during the school’s official finals week, which does raise a question about the necessity of having a finals week scheduled.
“If teachers are going to give finals whenever they feel it is necessary, then there is less and less value in having an official finals week,” counselor Jeff Schatz says.
Due to the senior GradNite trip being in the middle of finals week, all seniors have to take their exams by Tuesday, which conflicts with many classes for students of multiple grades.
“Since I have classes that have grades mixed, from freshman to seniors, I give my final to all of my students a week early,” Health and Psychology teacher Jeffrey Wright says, “so I don’t have to end up holding one final for seniors a week early and then another on finals week.”
In addition to seniors and students in classes with seniors taking their exams early, there are many other classes that hold finals prior to the week officially allotted for exams.
In preparation for Advanced Placement testing, many AP teachers hold their finals a week or two prior to the College Board’s exams.
“It makes sense for me and other AP teachers to finish the curriculum and give out our finals early in order to get our students ready for the AP exams,” English teacher Patrick Robel says.
Dawn Hatch’s Geometry students took their finals on April 24 and 25 to prepare for state testing. In the last month of the year, her class has focused on preparation for Algebra II.
Some teachers, like Spanish teacher Patricia Bean, find that even though giving students their exams early to prepare for tests like AP or state testing may seem to work well, it makes it difficult for teachers who are not done teaching their course and holding their final during finals week.
“Students start to feel like school has already come to an end,” Bean observes, “and they no longer want to stay engaged and focused in other courses that are not yet finished.”
English teacher Whitney Grummon agrees.
“Some students do tend to check out after having a final or two,” she says. “That is why, after having finals, teachers need to make their students accountable for keeping on task during the remainder of the school year.”
Grummon feels that an official finals week is a big part in helping students prepare for college in the sense that in college all classes have finals on a certain week, and students won’t be prepared if they don’t have this type of experience.
“Although students may get overwhelmed in college, with no experience of having an official finals week,” Robel says, “we are not a college, so we do not have to make our school like one.”
History teacher Marc Stafford, who gave his course final May 8 and 9 before his class took AP testing, suggests a unique idea: have students take their finals a month before school ends, and then have students start their classes for the next year.
“There are many teachers who say that the school year is very cramped,” Stafford says, “so I think that it would make sense to do this so that teachers and students can get a feel for each other sooner, and when we come back to class the intro to the class is out of the way.”
Although there are many different ways teachers run their courses—whether ending the curriculum early or on the school schedule—the administration notes that there are a variety of opportunities for learning through the end of the year.
“There is always something teachers can be doing until the end of the year,” CHS Principal Rick Lopez says. “For teachers who give the final early, they now have the chance to go over curriculum they didn’t get the chance to cover throughout the year.”