It’s time to rearrange the district calendar

Its time to rearrange the district calendar


As we all know, ETHS first semester final exams begin one week after students and staff return from winter break. Final exams have been scheduled at this time for several years, but it’s time for that to change.

We at the Evanstonian believe that final exams should occur before students depart on their two-week winter vacation. The fact of the matter is that few students at ETHS use their time off to diligently review the semester’s content in preparation for their final exams. This lack of academic focus during break can only negatively affect the amount of knowledge students are able to retain.

Leading up to break, students have roughly four full weeks of school in a row to get in a rhythm with their classwork. If finals fell at the conclusion of this stretch, students would be able to apply that focus and momentum towards the test, likely leading to greater success as a student body. But instead, the disruption in curriculum caused by the current timing of break leads to students feeling like they need to cram an entire semester’s content into one week of review.

Additionally, giving final exams before winter break would allow both students and staff to take full advantage of the time off, without having thoughts of the upcoming test looming over them. This way, students and staff would return from break fresh and ready to take on second semester. It simply makes sense for a new semester to begin after the second longest break of the year.

There are two potential solutions to this issue. The first is that teachers could rearrange their annual curriculum, so there is one fewer week’s-worth of content on the first semester final exam. Students would then be sufficiently prepared to take their exam during the week before break. This would slightly slow the pace of the class first semester and slightly accelerate it during second semester, in order to make up for that week.

The second and more viable solution is to push back the entire calendar two weeks. This year, school started on Aug. 28, so this change would mean that school starts around Aug. 14. District 202 and 65 operate on relatively similar schedules, and winter break always spans the same dates for both districts. The main concern of the administration is that re-working the calendars of both districts would be too difficult, that it would require troublesome planning and coordination.

We realize the difficulty in arranging such a massive schedule change; however, we believe that in this case the benefits outweigh the costs. We at the Evanstonian are far from the first people to make this argument; it is a topic often discussed and debated among students, staff and parents. Rumours routinely circulate of a future push to pre-winter break finals schedule, while nothing has materialized. We are not asking for an immediate change of policy, simply for the administration to account for student interest and make these changes in the near future.

We at the Evanstonian believe rearranging the calendar is necessary and worthwhile. It is in the best interest of both students and staff to either start school earlier in the year, or rearrange class curriculum so that we all return from break with a clean slate.