Concerns about MLWGS Semester Exams

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As of today, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School Students have been out of school for four days, disrupting the proposed semester exam schedule and getting rid of review and educational days altogether. We are here to add our continued support to the perpetually growing number of students and faculty in favor of making our semester exams optional. As of this moment, the student support for this change is overwhelmingly unanimous. Not only this, but Maggie Walker is an exceptional school that is such due to its exceptional and hardworking students. This decision to make semester exams optional is justified by numerous compelling reasons.
First of all, we students have missed a several highly important review days due to heavy snow. These review days are essential to student success on the exams. Teachers use this time to review and emphasize the information that will be most prevalent on the exam, as well as go over the test format. This is highly important, as studying for six or more midterms, especially in upper-level classes, can be a daunting task. Students use the review day time get pressing questions answered about the course material, and study groups use it to collaborate and review amongst themselves. Some classes even use the few days before exams to teach new material, all of which will be covered on the exam. Many students would not be able to attend after school sessions, and review classes are not even an option anymore. Without this crucial time for review and instruction, many students will not perform as well on exams, and certainly not up to Maggie Walker standards.
Having started the school year four to five days later than usual and having missed all school days since last Friday, Maggie Walker is nearly two full weeks behind schedule. Missing an additional week of instructional days would be devastating and would certainly have an impact on preparedness for AP exams, which are nerve-wracking and much more important for colleges than semester exams.
Next, the problem of scheduling arises. If exams were to be postponed, they would no longer be on the same 6/8, 5/7 schedule as before, thus ruining the studying efforts of all students. Not only, but students would no longer have the weekend to study for the second half of exams. This would undoubtedly negatively affect exam grades, as students would get even less sleep than they normally would, and less time to prepare. Studies have shown that students must get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, lest there be very negative consequences on test scores and overall coherence. Maggie Walker students are already extremely sleep-deprived, due to a highly rigorous curriculum and countless hours of competitive sports and extra-curricular activities. Exams, at this point and in the future, are very suffocating.
Finally, a large number of other schools and counties, including Henrico, Prince George, Powhatan, and others, have cancelled their own exams. This not only is unfair to our students, but will negatively impact our performance on APs and semester grades compared to our counterparts at other schools. It is simply not justified that Maggie Walker students, who have a statistically very rigorous curriculum compared to most schools in the area, must take countless exams with no time to prepare, and then pushing back the curriculum for the rest of the year.
Of course, we do not want to prevent the students seeking to improve their grade through semester exams from doing so. For those who feel it is worth their precious time and sleep, exams could be made optional so the students who wanted to take them could.

If we do, in the most stressful case, have exams, then Wednesday should be given back to the students, as a break day. This way, the problem of 8 exams in 4 days is avoided. The exams would be Mon/Tues and Thurs/Fri next week. Students would benefit from a study day on Wednesday and teachers would love to keep that as a grading day/planning day. However, this would be the most stressful case, as the mental health of our already fragile student body is declining.

We are all positive that this is not the only message of this sort that you have received, but we wanted to make sure you heard from as many students as possible in order to recognize the virtually unanimous support of this We all want to perform as well as we can on all of our assessments, and having missed so many instructional and review days, we do not think we are at all prepared to do so.

We wish to make MLWGS semester exams optional for all students.

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