Why I Support Final Exams
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Student Life

Why I Support Final Exams

Three years post-graduation and my views have already changed.

Why I Support Final Exams

Loudoun County Public Schools has announced that they are seriously considering doing away with mid-term and final exams at the high school level... WHAT?! No, you didn't read this wrong, I said LCPS is on the verge of not giving out weighted exams anymore at the halfway and end points of courses.

According to the county's official school website, a survey of students, teachers and parents was conducted over this past school year to test how important midterm and final exams were in middle and high schools: "After reviewing the the extensive feedback, Loudoun County Public Schools modified its ... practices as follows: LCPS will no longer require midterm and final exams."

As a college student, who graduated from a LCPS high school in the recent past (holla at the class of #2012, #cookin'), I'm appalled to see how much has changed in three short years. Where is the quality of education going? Where are we headed, and how can we expect the future of college students to be? I know that teachers are still required to test their students; perhaps even more because of this potential change. I know that projects and assignments will have more weight on final grades, because of the new distribution of schoolwork. My issue is not that school is becoming easier, but that it is deviating from a system that is also present in college courses.

I'm all for setting high standards. In fact, I sometimes set standards at impossible levels for myself and those around me. I'm not afraid to admit that I've set the bar at over-achiever level 5,000 million. I've been that kid who did way more than what was asked of her in high school, at home, at work... you get the picture. When everyone else was relaxing, I was thinking of ways to do even more. I don't expect everyone to be like me. In truth, I expect a lot of people to be the polar opposite of me. But that doesn't for a moment lower what I want for myself!

The same goes for what we do at school. Just because it would be easier on myself and others to abolish mid-terms and finals in high school, it doesn't mean that I will support that kind of laxity. Someone I know of from my days at Potomac Falls stated on social media that the new policy is laughable: "high school is suppose[d] to prepare kids for college," and the only valuable lessons we all brought with us from high school were study habits from mid-term and final exams.

Photo via Pinterest

Being stagnant is always a problem, but in the same breath, I can say that consistency is a good thing, even if the consistency is cloaked in what looks like stagnancy. If students don't do well at testing and would be better evaluated in a different manner, then unfortunately the real world won't cater to that. Test-taking is a compacted skill set. I have a standardized tool belt that started being ingrained in my learning processes in... I dare say second grade of elementary school – maybe even earlier!

Teachers who are supportive of this new way of schooling have gone on record defending it with the fact that without the massive tests, there is more time to teach content, and focus on the student getting information rather than learning for a specific test. Sure, that's actually a good point, teachers, touché. But this one point doesn't make me rest my case. That would be too easy.

I think with each generation, we lose touch just a little bit more. With technology, we each have the option to be more lazy OR to work harder and smarter with the advancements we have access to. Because we are human, and obviously easy equals desirable in our culture, many of our learning opportunities are opted out of.

Maybe I was trained differently because of gifted and talented classes, honors and Advanced Placement courses. Maybe the students will blossom without the burden of major exams defining their grades. Maybe LCPS is right, ahead of a huge trend that will follow their lead. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm kind of a Virginia tax-payer now, and I'm kind of an adult now, too. So I'm voicing my opinion as someone who can remember those grueling days at the end of every semester that have by last week vanished. Surprisingly (note the sarcasm), I'm still going through final testing as a college student (wow, can you believe it), and truly believe that taking the enormous tests away will set future students up for failure when they try to move on, to things that are (shockingly) bigger than high school.

Time and scores of (get this, you won't believe this) OTHER standardized tests will tell. Teens who are the first to escape the exams in high school can't escape the SAT, ACT and college entry exams. They can't evade readiness evaluations for undergraduate courses, and they can't evade end-of-year reports for business positions they'll one day hold. Testing never ends in Northern Virginia, and I doubt it will cease in these areas I mentioned. Every stage of life comes with benchmarks and ways to check performance and knowledge. I'm glad that I'm not going through this new era of exam-less life.

Lastly, I leave you with a modification of Paramore's hit song "Ain't It Fun:"

Don't go crying

To your high school

Cause they test your chops

In the real world

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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