PCP: Finals schedule
Park's adoption of a seven-period schedule over a block schedule for finals week called into question
January 11, 2022
Time needed for testing
In past years, finals days have always had a block schedule in order to extend the amount of time students have to work on exams and projects. Block scheduling consists of all seven periods being split into two days, odd periods on one day, even periods on the other. With this schedule, all periods are extended to an hour and a half rather than 45 minutes. This allows teachers and students to have enough time to take exams and do projects while also keeping students from having all finals in one day. However, this year the administration has decided to stick to the normal seven period schedule on those days.
Although I understand that the seven period schedule is good for those who have several classes not holding finals, it takes away the time that is needed for the classes that do. In my experience, the block schedule is needed to ensure that I will have enough time to complete my final exams before the next class.
The extended class time also allows time for students to work with teachers if they need extra help or need to catch up on past assignments before the semester ends. Additionally, for students who have testing accommodations, a longer class period is needed so that they can complete their test in their allotted time without having to be late to their next class.
Block schedules also offer the added benefit of having a limit to the amount of tests students can have in a day. Because the block schedule has odd periods on one day, and even periods on the next day, the maximum number of tests possible in one school day is four. This not only helps students resist being burnt out part way through the day, but also allows students to be able to study for some tests one night, and some the next, rather than trying to cram all studying into one night.
Although there are some benefits to the typical seven period schedule on finals days, I feel that the block scheduling is crucial to the overall mental health of the students.
Consistency is key
While in previous years, the last days of the semester were scheduled as block days, this year, administration has decided to forgo that plan. Instead, Park will be keeping the normal seven period routine for students to take final exams. While this does leave less time for tests during class, I ultimately believe that this schedule will be beneficial for students.
In any situation, having a set routine is valuable. You know what to expect and you are used to an established system. Keeping the finals schedule the same as every other day brings a sense of normalcy. On a block day schedule, that routine is thrown out of balance, which could add extra stress and uncertainty to an already difficult time.
Additionally, the block scheduling doubles class time – something students are not used to. I become easily distracted and less focused the more time I spend in a class. The 45-minute time frame is a perfect amount for me to really concentrate, but after that, I become far less attentive and productive. Especially if I am taking a test the entire block period, I know I will become distracted, therefore impacting my performance. This increased amount of time could become unproductive if students are attempting to focus for longer periods.
Having shorter classes may also deter teachers from giving finals, as long, tedious tests are something students usually dislike. Instead, projects or other non-test based finals could be another option, which are more creative and help show a true understanding, rather than just good memorization.
While I do understand and foresee students experiencing issues regarding multiple finals back to back, with having class on both days instead of just one, it provides options for teachers of when to give their final. I hope that teachers will try their best to be flexible and accommodate the schedule to what best fits a student’s needs. Overall, keeping the schedule consistent will help keep students focused.