No mid-year finals at Paly and Gunn
Original post made by Anne Avis, Old Palo Alto, on May 30, 2006
If PAUSD is serious about reducing stress among high school students, I hope they consider a proven strategy: eliminating mid-year finals in high school. Many people gasp in disbelief at the thought initially. But it works -- if the priority is to reduce stress while maintaining a rigorous academic program. Crystal Springs Uplands School, a small private college prep school in Hillsborough, has done this for 4 years. Teachers choose alternative, unit-based assessments including projects, essays and shorter tests -- even for semester courses. Finals at the end of the year become more about the bigger themes of the curriculum. Teachers and students report a much calmer winter season with more classroom learning time. Semester grades are determined based on a variety of assessments. It would be easier to implement than changing the PAUSD school calendar to allow the first semester to end prior to the holidays. A proposal has been submitted to Paly's Site Council and to the Stressed Out Students committee.