Winning Waivers: New policy creates chance for fewer finals

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Julian Gallegos, Staff Writer

With the first semester coming to a close, the newly added finals exemption policy is giving hard-working students the ability to take one final off of their mind.
For the 2021-2022 school year, the administration decided to extend final exam waivers to everyone in the school for the first time. Previously, only seniors had been allowed to waive finals during second semester only.
“I think that it’s really helpful especially for some classes that people might be struggling with,” junior Lauren Lueckenotto said. “It would be one less thing to have to study for, and we would be able to focus on the AP classes that are harder and require a lot more time.”
Students who are enrolled in AP classes are unable to waive the final exam in that class. Any student who is dual-enrolled for college credit in a class also cannot waive their final.
“Students get really stressed out from all the different subjects they have to study for,” Lueckenotto said. “If there’s one less one to study, I think that it will make it easier for people to succeed.”
Principal Maureen Engen said having waivers will act as a motivation to inspire students to strive for better grades and to study more throughout the year instead of finals week.
“It’s an incentive for a student to get to the end of a semester class and know that they’ve given it their all,” Engen said. “We just feel like it’s a good motivational factor for all students.”
Though the exemptions are put in place to help students, if a teacher believes that taking the final will be more beneficial, they can require their students to take the final.
“The administration and teachers have the right to deny any exemption,” Engen said. “In the end, the teachers have the ultimate say.”
Final exams can account for 15% to 20% of a class grade. With that taken into account, final exam results are pivotal to determine the grade in a class.
“This little final can literally destroy my grades if I’m not careful,” senior Abraham Caro-Martinez said. “It’s really helpful that this year a little bit of the stress of one more final will be gone.”
According to Caro-Martinez with how impactful finals are towards a student’s grade, December can wear out students mentally with how much studying is necessary to get everything correct.
“The whole finals week just makes me feel stressed and tired,” Caro-Martinez said, “I think that finals are honestly unnecessary because they are so impactful on our stress and can destroy your grades.”
French teacher Leigh-Ann Haggerty pointed out that the one drawback to this policy is that it is not getting students ready for college life.
“I think the only problem could really be that this is not necessarily preparing you for college life,” Haggerty said. “There are some classes where all you have is a midterm and a final, so that I see is the only adverse effect of waiving finals.”
Haggerty also said innate motivation can help students retain knowledge instead of simply having to memorize study guides for final exams.
“I also believe that you really want knowledge for knowledge’s sake, and you want people to have what’s called intrinsic motivation,” Haggerty said. “You want motivation that comes from inside and sometimes just having a final is extrinsic motivation. So it’s just saying, ‘here’s something you have to know for this final’ and it doesn’t mean that you actually know anything.”
Engen said she believes that students should be allowed to waive finals if they have already shown hard work throughout the semester.
“Ultimately, what I’d say is that the goal of a teacher is to make sure that students leave that class, and they have mastered the skills in their class,” Principal Engen said. “Success isn’t necessarily defined as, ‘I taught, and you did really well on a final exam.’ That is not an ultimate measure of success. Progress is the ultimate measure.”