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First semester finals grading schedule requires revision to relieve student anxiety

Before winter break last month, students went through one of the worst weeks of the year: finals week. This week is a period of testing endurance and a semester’s worth of material, where stress levels are off the roof for students. But teachers were less stressed, because they knew grades were due on Jan. 15, two weeks after winter break.

Students were appalled by teachers not posting grades after they had taken their finals. With the uncertainty about grades after students poured hours into studying, students were left to stress over winter break about whether they had received the grade they wanted.

In spite of this, Paly students must recognize how much teachers do for them in preparing lesson plans, tests, and of course, having to deal with the stressful Palo Alto parents. While it would be less stressful for students to have all of the finals graded before winter break, it is also extremely important to give teachers the time that they need to grade finals thoroughly and establish any curve that may need to take effect.

While some students were opposed to having grades due after winter break, other students were not so concerned with the matter.

“It’d be nice to see your final grades and not worry about it, but it doesn’t really make a difference to me,” junior Noah Phillips said.

It is also important to recognize the time constraints the teachers have. For most of finals week, teachers are proctoring tests, and they need to have their eye on the classroom 100 percent of the time to ensure that the academic honesty policy prevails; therefore, having teachers grade finals while proctoring finals would not be a possible solution.

While it may be hard to realize, having the grades due after finals and allowing teachers to grade finals after break could help the students tremendously.

First of all, some teachers at Paly like to talk with other teachers about their tests before they put them online for students. This process allows teachers to go through the test one more time to ensure that there are not any errors. Also, it allows teachers that give written tests to thoroughly examine each student’s work to ensure that the grade that was given was a complete representation of the student’s work.

Also, after all the final exams have been taken on the Friday before winter break at 12:30 p.m., teachers want to go home too to enjoy their time off. It would seem unreasonable to ask teachers who have given written exams or even multiple choice exams to put them all in the scantron, establish any errors and then put all of their students’ grades on Infinite Campus.

However, for students that are on the borderline between grades, it is important that the Paly staff recognize the stress level of these students, and having to wait until after winter break would not allow these students to enjoy their breaks to the fullest extent. The purpose of having winter break after finals this year was to give students two solid weeks of stress-free bliss, but having an open gradebook, with one assignment blank and an 89.4 percent  in the class, is a torturous situation to be in.

For next year it would seem significantly more efficient if the two days implemented before finals were instead moved to the two full eight-hour work days after finals, in order to allow the teachers a sufficient amount of time to finish grading finals and close their grade books.

“If we had two full eight-hour work days to grade all of our papers then yes, it would seem reasonable to have grades due by Friday,” freshman English teacher Craig Bark said, “However, even two days to grade essays and think about them [Bark shrugs his shoulders.] You have to be in the mood to grade [the papers] accurately and take your time. If I just sit there and grade a whole class set you are going to be frustrated [as an English teacher.]”

However, given that this was not the case this year, Bark still believes that teachers should be given two weeks to grade papers, or even more time.

On the contrary, it seems reasonable for teachers who administer multiple choice finals to be able to put the scores in Infinite Campus. But, the only problem with having multiple choice finals due Friday afternoon would be a mass hysteria of teachers clogging the scantron machine. Regardless, students who do not see their grades before break  will be stressed throughout the course of winter break, given the environment of the Palo Alto community, but Bark believes that this stress is all right.

“Hey man students are meant to be stressed,” Bark said. “It’s part of being at school. Once you have taken the final there is absolutely nothing you can do about it other than sit down and relax.”

For many students, the two days before finals was a time of silent studying in the classrooms, rather than organized review. Replacing the first two days before finals to two days after finals and having grades finalized on Friday would benefit students and teachers greatly. Students would be allowed to see their final grades, and teachers, with two full paid staff work days, would be allowed to talk to other teachers and grade all of the finals.

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