Recent student performances raise concern

Danielle Koleosho, Staff Writer

Due to the inconsistencies in remote learning from the past few years, student testing performance from kindergarten through high school has dropped since 2019 across America.
Prior to the pandemic, math and reading scores were slowly improving but learning through the lockdown caused a large setback for students. Despite efforts to improve, students are performing lower each year after the pandemic.
The pandemic has affected students of all races and socioeconomic status. According to The New York Times, The National Assessment of Educational Progress indicates for the first time since 1970, nine year olds have lost progress in math, and their reading scores have had the largest decrease ever in the last 30 years.
This year, Plainfield South is making another step to return to normal by taking finals for the first time in three years.
Anatomy and forensics teacher, Brian Zettergren, is preparing his students for finals by giving them a final study guide more than a week before their exam.
“I kind of focus the study guide to about six questions or so per unit to make sure that you know those specific things. So it’s not like you have the overwhelming task of remembering every detail in a class like anatomy where there’s so much detail,” Zettergren said.
Because finals are worth  20% of overall grades, many students worry how the exam will affect their semester grade.
Maya Gray, a senior at South who participates in soccer, PSLC, and NHS, feels overwhelmed in the weeks leading up to finals.
“Most of my teachers haven’t even started preparing for finals. A couple of them have given out just the study guide, but other than that teachers are trying to fit in a whole other unit right before we even start preparing,” Gray said.
Gray is not the only one nervous about finals. The majority of the student body has never taken finals and seniors have only taken one final during the first semester of freshman year.
Abby Hall, a junior  who participates in volleyball and PSLC, feels swamped with the idea of finals because of the lack of experience.
“None of my teachers have [acknowledged] that we haven’t taken a final yet. In some classes I’ve gotten a study guide or will be getting them soon, but they haven’t done anything so far,” Hall said.
Hall also feels like finals are particularly hard for her and others who do well in class but are not strong test takers.
Though finals may be hard for some, they are an opportunity to prepare for college. High school finals allow students to learn successful study methods before college.
“Finals in college are already pretty tough as it is, but that’s from my experience with finals all four years of high school. I think taking finals now, especially with you guys, is going to be important so that you have that experience [and] to know how to prepare for a final exam before you get to college,” Zettergren said.
Having finals in college allows students to develop meaningful and effective methods of studying before college.
Though finals season is stressful, the staff encourages students to trust themselves and all of their accumulated knowledge. Associate Principal for Curriculum and Instruction, Lisa Smith, understands that finals season is stressful, but she encourages staff to help students trust in themselves and all of their accumulated knowledge from the last semester.
“It’s also remembering [that students have] taken these big outcome assessments and benchmarks throughout a semester, so [they] have a glimpse of what an exam is going to look like leading up to it. [Students] have had the practice already. Yeah it’s a longer, bigger test with obviously a lot more involvement in it, but you’ve seen every piece of it along the way,” Smith said.
Gray advises students to study in an environment with minimal distractions so students can hold themselves accountable when studying.
Zettergren also has tips to make finals less stressful.
“I also recommend chunking those and not doing everything at the end. Structure your time management skills […] If you can do a chapter or two a day leading up to when we are going to review for the final [will make it] easier and it won’t be so overwhelming,” Zettergren said.