Administration Alters Finals Week Amid Online Classes

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Issue 9, Volume 111

By Kai Li, Jady Chen, Eugene Yoo, Janna Wang 

Due to the citywide closure of public high schools and the cancelation of the January Regents, the Stuyvesant administration announced changes to January’s Finals/Regents Week. Under normal circumstances, Stuyvesant administers both Regents exams and uniform final assessments during the last week of January. Students only come into the school building to take their respective exams, as there are no classes.

This semester, however, Finals/Regents Week will be separated into two weeks. During Finals Week—from January 19 to January 22—departments will conduct in-class or unit finals or host synchronous class as usual. Uniform finals for Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, and Technology classes will be held on January 25, and all instruction will be asynchronous. January 26 to January 29—Regents Week—will be instructional days this year, as the Department of Education (DOE) canceled the January Regents administration.

The administration developed a testing schedule for Finals Week to ensure that students are not overwhelmed with assessments. “Students will still be tested in specific disciplines each day to allow proper time to prepare and to reduce stress,” Assistant Principal of World Language, Art, and Music Francesca McAuliffe said in an e-mail interview. “As a result of our remote alternating class schedule, most students will likely have fewer assessments on any single school day.”

While having fewer classes per day may help space out exams better than in past years, some students believe departments should opt not to host final exams within the remote environment. “With the lack of focus, I personally don’t think that finals should be administered due to the fact that you don’t know what goes on in each specific household and how the learning situation of each student has been affected,” sophomore Kyle Lee said in an e-mail interview.

Sophomore Cynthia Chang voiced a similar concern, saying that the remote setting would make it harder to concentrate. “Taking tests (especially if they’re timed and even more so when we’re on Zoom) at home is definitely worse than taking it in school,” she said in an e-mail interview.

Some students have taken the opposite stance, however, arguing that students have fallen behind this year and that finals are important for keeping up with the curriculum. “Because most departments are not having finals and there are no Regents, our level of preparedness and overall knowledge is lower,” sophomore Nika Raiffe said in an e-mail interview. “Both the teachers and the students know that there isn’t a big final assessment, so most people treat the curriculum more casually.”

Though the decision to host classes during Regents Week—the week after Finals Week—was made by the DOE and not Stuyvesant, the administration allowed departments to choose whether their classes would have synchronous or asynchronous classes. They also asked that no new assignments be due during the week. The English, Chemistry, Physics, Technology, and Mathematics departments have decided not to host live instruction, while the Biology, Computer Science, Social Studies, World Language, Art, Music, and Physical Education/Health departments will. “Contact time is something that our educators and I agree supports learners tremendously in these disciplines,” McAuliffe said regarding her departments’ decision to continue live classes.

While the Mathematics and Technology departments will be hosting asynchronous classes, they will be administering uniform finals on January 25. The tests will be assessed using various online learning platforms, including JupiterEd and DeltaMath. “All of the final exams for Geometry, Algebra 2, and Pre-Calculus will be administered online using DeltaMath, the same program students used to complete their summer assignment. Unlike previous years, all of the exams will be administered at the same time,” Assistant Principal of Mathematics Eric Smith said in an e-mail interview. “The content of the exams isn’t different from last year.”

For many students, Regents Week typically serves as a period of time to unwind and prepare for the next semester after finals exams.“Regents Week is actually the time you use to destress and decompress before the next semester, and I think a lot of students were looking forward to that time because we don’t have a lot of that time now that we’re in remote learning,” senior and Student Union President Julian Giordano said. “It feels like we’re confined to our homes, and the only thing we do in our homes is work, and it’s going to feel that way for the entirety of Regents Week because we still will be in live classes.”

Some students are concerned that the continuation of live instruction during both Finals and Regents Weeks will add to an accumulating pile of stress. “The only reason I’m a little disappointed that live instruction will proceed during Regents Week is because when we took in-person finals, I could devote the entirety of the rest of my days/week to studying, but now if one were to have multiple finals that week on top of live instruction, the stress levels must only have increased,” junior Krista Proteasa said in an e-mail interview. “This type of motivation we have to conjure ourselves while remote isn't in endless supply. In fact, it’s usually used up fairly quickly, so breaks are absolutely necessary to let us breathe from time to time.”

Chang acknowledged the increased stress levels she may face but recognized that having classes during Regents week might be necessary. “[It] makes sense since the tests are canceled. I do wish we had an official break during that time, but I also don’t want us to fall behind,” she said.

Giordano, however, expressed that many students are reaching a point of academic burnout. “I think we have this emphasis on live instruction during Regents Week [because] we’re losing class time, and we need class time to make up for the time that we’ve missed, and a lot of teachers are worried about preparing students for AP exams, Regents exams, or whatever the case is,” he said. “That’s definitely a concern, but in trying to recreate last year, teaching everything the way we did before and keeping the exact same curriculum, I think we’re sort of lying to ourselves because it’s not possible […] students do need a break.”