On November 15, the Concord Academy administration unveiled a new schedule for the end of semester exams, one that was very different from the schedule in years past. The administration claimed that they were implementing this new schedule as a way to make this time period less stressful for the students. While I appreciate the administration’s efforts, they could have executed their plans quite differently to reduce the amount of stress on students.
If they wanted to make a new schedule, they should have presented the idea to students near the beginning of the year and provided students and teachers with an opportunity to give feedback before the schedule was official. By using the students’ and teachers’ feedback as a baseline, the administration would have been able to determine whether the schedule would actually improve stress levels and help them further achieve their goals. Instead, they did not announce the plan for the schedule change until November, which surprised the majority of teachers and the student body. For me, the schedule was abrupt, unnecessary and stress-inducing, which is the opposite of what they strived for.
For the time that I have been at CA, I have appreciated the level of transparency, inclusion, and desire of student feedback that the faculty tends towards when creating plans like this one. These are the parts of CA that truly induce a feeling of common trust between faculty, teachers and students. For a change as dramatic as this, I would have expected the same level of transparency throughout the process. The administration did not actively seek feedback about the previous schedule, giving them little reason to change it. This makes me question what information encouraged them to implement these changes, but regardless of their reasoning, the schedule feels more stressful than previously.
Since two of the three weeks between Thanksgiving Break and December Break are now finals weeks, the plan allows for only one week to study. It feels like the administration did not fully consider – or perhaps did not care about – the amount of time students have to prepare for their finals. With the original schedule, review time did not feel as rushed, allowing students to plan and prepare for their tests more efficiently. Having the English, language, visual, and performing arts along with the computer science finals or final projects in the first week, there is less time to study for those than the science, math, and history finals in the second week.
The time crunch appears to be creating stress among my peers, especially because the finals start only a week after we get back from break. The change makes class curriculum harder to follow for teachers, and the time that students previously had to study for upcoming exams, is now dedicated to classes, even if that course has already had its final. The administration appears to not have thought about how the change would affect students and teachers, and because of this, they may have ended up achieving the opposite of their goal.
The administration had good intentions in changing the schedule, and by taking student and teacher feedback, would be able to significantly reduce stress during this period of time. However, by not doing so, they induced more stress and anxiety about exams, benefitting no one. I am hopeful that the administration will be able to revise this schedule and improve it, using students’ and teachers’ feedback in order to effectively minimize stress levels.