The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

Communication about finals: a difficult balance for all

What are the tradeoffs of the lack of communication about finals?

The final exam policy this year has presented a difficult balancing act to administration, who must both adhere to FCPS policy, and stay true to the policy at AHS, all the while deciding how to best encourage students to actually participate.

If you are a student and are wondering why everyone seems a little confused about how finals work, or why you’ve only heard about it via word-on-the-street from teachers, there’s a reason for that, and there are also good intentions, too.

In an email sent to teachers from AHS administration that detailed the workings of the final exam policy, especially the key point that final exams can’t lower a student’s final grade, this sentence was included: “To encourage students to continue to put in their full effort, we have not emphasized this in our communication with families”.

Final exams this year, like last year, work as follows: “End-of-year exams are worth 10% of a students’ grade and are a final opportunity for students to improve their grade in the course. This year, a student’s score on a final exam can only serve to improve the final grade. If the final exam grade does not improve the final grade in the course, it will be excluded in the gradebook.”

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Thus is outlined a plan to increase student motivation and participation in taking their finals, an admirable goal. But what are the tradeoffs?

Principal Shawn DeRose says, “The focus of our communication about final exams was to stress to students the importance of attending school and finishing the year strong. We recognize that the emphasis on this caused some confusion, so in our most recent Community Insider, we provided more details.”

Such a decision, in principle, immediately raises many questions. With the exception of the Community Insider email sent on Sunday, May 21, no prior Community Insider emails explicitly mentioned that final exams can’t lower grades.

Instead, the other emails explain what constitutes a final exam, that finals are worth 10%, and that student’s can’t retake finals. And that attendance is required, otherwise students could possibly receive a 50%.

There has hardly been any communication at all about the main caveat of finals this year. However, it seems like as we are approaching the final exam season closer and closer, everyone is increasingly becoming on the same page, as seen by this most recent Insider at last explaining how exams work.

The point of this all is to encourage students to take their exams which is a great idea. As seen last year, since finals can’t harm grades, many students simply decided not to take them, because they have nothing to lose. However, there is still a lot to gain from the experience, DeRose says.

“Final exams are worth 10% of a student’s grade in the class and can only serve to improve the final grade. That means students have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by preparing for, and taking their final exam. It is our hope that every student takes advantage of this opportunity,” says DeRose.

Finals are a valuable last chance to raise grades. If one is unsatisfied with how they’re doing in class, there are few other opportunities that are as impactful as doing well on a final.`

Still, I think a decision where being upfront from the start about how finals work, and equally being upfront about the benefits would be a much better strategy than trying to limit how and what information is told to families, and putting the focus on the consequences of skipping finals.

“This year, we have made many efforts to empower students to take ownership over their learning and, in turn, their grades. We always want students to have the information they need to be the stewards of their academic experience,” DeRose says.

To sum things up, DeRose adds, “We hope that any points of confusion were resolved by our most recent communication. Students and families are always welcome to reach out to me directly with any questions.”

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About the Contributor
Shane Gomez, Co-Editor in Chief

Senior Shane Gomez is the Co-Editor in Chief of the A-Blast. He was Editorials Editor as a sophomore and junior and a Staff Writer as a freshman. He is pursuing the IB Diploma and he can be found frequenting clubs and organizations such as AWC, AYSO, ABC, AA, CFAC, HSC, SHF, MUN, NHS, NEHS, NSSHS, SNHS, VWA, and YMG. He likes to thrift, hangout, and watch movies. He looks forward to graduating.

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