East students should have Capstone activities instead of final exams

Capstone activities should replace final exams in this unprecedented school year.

Courtesy of TN Tech Blogs

Capstone activities should replace final exams in this unprecedented school year.

As the year approaches an end, millions of kids nationwide prepare for final exams, engaging in arduous study sessions which turn into sleepless nights, stressful days, and long weeks. Excluding student burnout, which usually peaks in spring, the addition of final exam preparation aside from keeping up with schoolwork is something that takes a toll on student mental health and motivation. If students already demonstrate their topic understanding throughout the year, why are final exams necessary? This year especially, students have not been studying under normal circumstances, and taking a written test would be a particularly non-ideal solution as many teachers had to rush full curriculums, exclude labs, and to an extent, rely on students’ self studying skills. According to the APA (American Psychological Association), 7/10 people said that they had experienced an increase in stress over the past year due to the pandemic. Though some may argue these achievement tests are used to measure student qualification in a certain subject, Capstone activities would be a much better alternative to yet another test (usually requiring more memorization and misery than learning).

For one, not only do they measure acquired intelligence in an area by allowing students to create a project on respective subjects, but they also sharpen cognitive skills (by research and reading), organization skills (by portfolio planning),and team effort (by dividing up work for students in groups of 3-5). These factors not only offer benefits for an individual to learn about a certain topic by using a diverse method to show retention, but also better prepare students for the real world, as these skills can also help when students enter the workforce.
Though final exams should be excluded, AP exams should be kept as a way for a student to show their interest in a specialized subject. Unlike final exams, AP tests may allow upperclassmen to show proficiency in a subject of interest when submitting their score to college, without it taking a toll on their GPA.

In sum, Capstone activities are the best solution for students to demonstrate the knowledge that they’ve acquired in a certain subject at the end of the year to account for student mental health, better retainment of the information, and gain important life skills.