Opinion: Finals review policy not sufficient

Becca Raffel, Author

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The Palo Alto High School Tower Building is home to the administration that enforces the “Dead Week” policies. This year, the review days will span two weeks. This is the first year of the new schedule that changed the review period to be this way.

New year, new schedule. But one thing has not changed: the week before finals is a hectic compilation of tests, projects and homework that drastically take away from student study time.

This year, the new schedule places the “Review Days” across two weeks. Already, large projects are due on the designated review days, and many tests take place the week leading up to finals. Given that this is the first year with finals before winter break, it is possible that many teachers are struggling to make the adjustment to earlier finals. Yet, the cramming of an overwhelming amount of work before finals appears to be a recurring theme. Last year Voice reporters experienced a similar problem, proclaiming that “Dead Week is Alive.”

Having two days of review immediately before finals poses another problem. Last year, students had the weekend to review everything after Review Days. This year, students will have a Review Day for their second and fourth period classes on Tuesday, and the final for those classes Wednesday. If the student uncovers something during the review class that they feel they need to review, there isn’t adequate time to do so before the final the subsequent day. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of review days?

Last year’s system was not without its faults either. Many teachers used the week before finals last year to assign projects and an intimidating amount of homework. No amount of time on the weekend could help such a situation anyway.

The student planner states that “There should be at least two days set aside for review for finals, and no major tests at least two days before finals begin.” Abiding by this policy and looking at our schedule, each class only has two review days: one 50 minute period and one 90 minute period. So, teachers can technically have tests on Thursday and devote Friday and the one block day the following week to review. But does it honestly seem beneficial to have students cramming for tests this week when they should really have the liberty to review a semester’s worth of work?

Many students believe that the week before finals is supposedly solely for review and no new material. Many refer to it as “Dead Week,” in that the classes should be “dead” and lacking new material so students have ample review time. However, the aforementioned policy only accounts for three “Review Days,” (two in each class). Yet, an entire week would be a fantastic idea. If teachers were able to be marginally more efficient throughout the year, it would not be difficult to allot this time for review.

Students need more time to review. The school policy for finals review is counterproductive to student success, and teachers need to realize that it isn’t the end of the world if they set aside one more day to help their students. If teachers are unwilling to do so, a revision to “Review Day” policy and how it is implemented in the new schedule is necessary to make sure students get the review they need.