Naturally, COVID has resulted in a plethora of changes including the way finals week is conducted. Due to the rising number of cases, many students chose to take their tests from home. Teachers took extraneous efforts to maintain integrity amongst all students. A couple teachers took a very extreme approach. Ms. Ngo and Ms. Rapp required students online to show their complete workspace, face, and keyboard. At any point the teachers could ask a student to show their desk and the room they are in. Under these conditions, if a student had a phone or worksheet on their desk, they would get a zero. Likewise, if a student appears to be looking at something behind or beside the camera, the teacher could ask to see the work area. If there was a cheat sheet, or some other prohibited resource, the student will receive a zero. Lastly, the tests administered in these classes were entirely multiple choice, meaning there would be no reason to use the keyboard. A student using a keyboard during the test meant they were looking something up. More commonly, rules were to simply have your camera on and microphone unmuted. Although, some teachers permitted students to leave zoom once they could get into the test without any technical difficulties. A handful of teachers assumed that students at home would use notes and study guides, and therefore allowed in-person students to use notes as well in an attempt to level the playing field.
Perhaps the most staggering change in finals this year is the schedule. This year’s final schedule had two odd classes in a row (cohort A, then cohort B) then two even classes in a row, and no school Friday. On top of that, teachers were given permission to hold class for only one day out of the week. Students would go to one class for the week in order to take the test. Afterwards, they were done with that class for the semester. Furthermore, several classes did not have a cumulative final, instead, they had a unit or a chapter test.
One popular question is: what do students think of these changes? One Sophomore said, “Nobody I know is taking a cumulative test, so it’s not really a final. Tests this year aren’t as long and stressful, but I don’t think we retain as much information. On the other hand, for mental health, this year is much better.” For better or worse, finals in 2020 are different from anything teachers or students have experienced thus far.