It’s (Already) The Most Stressful Time of the Year. And We’re Not Singing

Finals are coming, along with the anxiety about final grades. Which we won’t even be able to see. (WHAAT?!)

By Tara Higgins

By now you’ve no doubt heard that Infinite Campus will be shutting down on Sunday, Dec. 11: the night before finals begin. The reasoning? Psycho students who bug their teachers to round grades have strayed out of bounds.

This would, of course, make perfect sense from a teacher’s standpoint: watching the emails roll in approximately two seconds after you’ve just posted final grades has to be frustrating to say the least. When parents get involved, that’s even better. But just wait until Tuesday morning, when those same students, unable to even see what you’ve just posted, show up at your desk demanding to know what their final grade will be. Which, because you now have more time to post grades, you probably haven’t even gotten around to grading.

Imagine that. We’ve just replaced email with face-to-face communication. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Now picture the typical student who has never thought to question a grade and has always sat peacefully in their home watching the notifications from IC’s app appear on their phone screen every couple of hours. Some are B’s, most are A’s…OK, they’re not too depressed. I mean, it was an 87.4%, no way Mr./Mrs. X was gonna round that anyway. No big deal.

But I’m getting carried away here. The fact is, the majority of students who genuinely care about their grades know better than to bombard a teacher whose good side they’ve been trying to get on anyway. Personally, I’ve never dealt with a B in my life, although I’ve had my fair share of close calls.

Last year, for example, I decided to invest several hours of my precious time to filling out a small novel of a review for AP Biology, which, if completed, would mean my final test grade would be curved. On the day of finals, I turned in the thickest packet I’ve ever seen in my life into the basket, satisfied that no matter what grade I achieved on the final, at least it would be significantly curved.

Fast forward about four hours, and I watched as my friends’ test grades were all curved, and awaited anxiously the Remind text I knew I’d get once final grades – and curves – had been posted. Well, the text came all right, but mine still hadn’t been curved. Ummm…?

Now, I’d just spent a good chunk of my life that I’ll never get back working on that review, and not for nothing did I complete it. (I mean, yes, of course it helped with content review and all that, but you get the idea.) So, I did something I have only ever done that one time: I emailed my teacher to see if she’d gotten my review. In a matter of seconds, my grade was fixed, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

My point? When it’s the difference between an A and a B, I’m sure glad I was able to avert a catastrophic disaster – before it was too late.

Senior Ean Kramer’s reaction to the news was to be expected. As pictured above, he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the prospect of waiting until next Friday to find out if he’d be able to maintain a so-far-perfect GPA. “No I don’t like it because how am I supposed to know what grade I have in a class?” he said (OK, more like yelled, and that’s with a few choice words omitted). “It literally makes me want to die. And I will from all this stress. Heart attacks are inevitable,” he added.

Yes, exactly. So WHY CAN’T WE BE TRUSTED TO FIGURE THIS OUT FOR OURSELVES????????

There are, of course, several solutions to this problem. I’m sure one of them will appeal to both sides. On one hand, we could have all teachers adopting rounding policies that scare the students into submission. Refusing to round a grade if a student even asks definitely works as far as annoying emails go. Just tell the kids that asking will only guarantee they don’t get their way. It gets the worms out of the teacher’s apple but doesn’t punish the majority who just want to see what they got.

Or, we could somehow figure out how to let students see just the letter grade they’ve earned in the class, rather than the actual percentage. Teachers can explicitly state that unless a student has special circumstances, such as missing assignments and whatnot, that grade is final and that’s what the student gets, no buts about it. It’d be kind of like AP tests: all students get to see is the number score they’ve received, not the actual breakdown of points which would tell them just how close they were to earning the next highest score (which I wouldn’t want to see anyway since I’d probably end up breaking several dishes if I knew). If you don’t know how close you were, you can’t exactly conjure up a strong argument for why you should have an A instead of a B. Well I mean, you could, but that’d be too much work. No use speculating by that time. At least you’d avoid the anxiety that could potentially hinder a student’s performance on their upcoming finals.

As far as time for grading goes, teachers have always been given until the Friday of finals week to post their grades, so for teachers who need more time, they can take advantage of that, and for those who have easier tests to grade (maybe just a multiple choice test), they can post them sooner and get them out of the way should they choose. From that perspective, this new system isn’t going to change anything but what the student has to deal with.

Additionally, any reasoning behind the idea that students will give up on calculating their grades and focus more on studying is just flawed. Everyone knows that IC will be shutting down on Sunday night, giving students plenty of time to log onto Roger Hub and figure out the lowest possible grade they’ll need to pull off a miracle. However, not knowing where a grade stands during the week has great potential to throw off a student’s concentration on moving forward if they’re still stuck in worrying about the past. Maybe a certain student just wants to see what their final grade in AP Calculus will be so they can put it behind themselves and study for the next day’s test(s). Call me pessimistic, but I can’t see any benefit to the students with this endeavor. All I see is stress written across every one of my friends’ expressions in bright red, all capital, letters. Stress that’s both unwarranted and unnecessary.

Bottom line is that finals and final grades aren’t about anyone except the students they concern. We’ve worked hard all semester and these finals are the culmination of everything we’ve learned. They’re our one chance to prove we actually did absorb some knowledge while we just looked like we never paid attention. Why should we be held in mental captivity just because a group of students have never learned that only .5 and above rounds up. We can’t change legitimate mistakes if we’re not allowed to see if there are any mistakes. Time is of the essence. Life isn’t fair. We need to learn how to deal with results that are less than ideal, rather than covering them up and delaying the inevitable.

So why, after all this ranting, do I think this new policy is, to say the least, “less than ideal?” Because we take the test. And we deserve to see what we got on it.

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