Mandatory Finals Stir Up Controversey

Alex Badger '20 and Haley Welsh '19

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“It’s definitely a conversation we need to have,” said Mr. Belbin, history department head, with regards towards the shift of other departments into mandatory final exams. “Their reasoning makes a lot of sense, and it may become schoolwide, but as a department we’ll have a serious discussion about it this summer.”


This answer came in response to both the English and Foreign Language Departments making the move into mandatory finals no matter the student’s final grade in the class for this school year. The move caught students remarkably off guard and really shook up the academic scene at Westborough High School.


The justification used by the two departments were founded in the idea that the best students should have no problem with the exams. The logic used by several members of the English Department was that the final exam can be used by the students to truly display their talents in the class. There were also several complaints that the grades on the test were very low, largely due to the fact that the best test scores were being removed so it was difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of the exam as the whole.


The Foreign Language Department used a slightly different justification, claiming that the classes as a whole are extremely cumulative, so a final exam is an essential piece of the course. They claimed that the evidence has shown that students who take the exam feel like they understand the content more for the next year because they are forced to recall everything.


This outraged numerous students, who felt that they were taking away an essential piece of the motivation for students. People feel like by getting above a 90 they have earned their right to not take the final and making them take it is unfair.


Senior Emma West commented on the debate, saying, “Mandatory finals strip many students of their motivation; kids with a 90 or above in a class have already shown their mastery in that class, and have already taken a midterm. We already have mandatory midterms, which gives kids plenty of practice for collegiate examinations.”


The History Department, as well as the rest of the school, will have a journey ahead of them this summer in the decision making process on this issue. Whether they follow the trend or side with the students is yet to be foreseen, but either way people may not support the decision.