No Fall Finals Week

No finals week?! Yes, the calendar is accurate. Read more

No Fall Finals Week

At LWHS, we are committed to providing the best learning experience we can for our students, balancing the needs for depth, rigor, innovation and mental health. To achieve this, we regularly evaluate the effectiveness of existing structures. Three years ago, we launched a final exams week schedule that gave teachers the flexibility to either hold a formal final exam or to have a final class meeting. This was an effort to meet the trend of teachers creating alternative culminating experiences to the traditional sit down final, as well as being inclusive of arts classes which had been squeezed out of past finals schedules. 

The model had some significant benefits: only one final exam per day meant less stress for students, dedicated afternoon blocks enabled teachers to run final experiences with individual classes, and students had lots of time to work on projects, collaborate and study. However, there has also been less positive feedback. Some teachers/departments felt they had already ended the semester successfully and that the single class meeting in the afternoon seemed extraneous, with students questioning why they needed to come to or stay at school just for the one class. In addition, a relatively small number of classes, slightly over one third, gave a final exam, and only from Math, Science and World Languages. With the fall already significantly shorter than the spring semester, this began to feel like wasted instructional time. 

After reviewing feedback and with impetus from academic administration, The Teaching and Learning Leadership Team elected to replace fall finals week with regular classes. Teachers will still give final assessments, but these will be within the regular 75 minute blocks and will include not only tests, but also presentations, projects, and more. 

In order to help make this a sane and successful end to the semester, we’ve created a Final Assessments Calendar, to keep assessments distributed rather than concentrated. We are also maintaining two important policies that are in effect throughout the school year:

  • Two major assessments rule: on a given day, students are only required to take two major assessments, the first two they are informed of. If a teacher announces a major assessment on a day when a student already has two, the student should inform the teacher, and they will find an alternate time for that student.

  • Homework policy: Teachers may only assign 60 minutes of homework between each class, 75 minutes for honors classes (on average). If we assign a project or essay that takes more than that time, then we have a responsibility to predict as accurately as possible the amount of time to complete the assignment and then allot the correct amount of homework and/or classwork time to do the work. The same is true of tests covering a large amount of material, like a cumulative or final exam. Teachers are responsible for predicting the amount of time the average student should take to study and then allot class/homework time to test preparation. Students are responsible for using allotted class and homework time responsibly and not wait until the night before to do the bulk of the work.
We will have a traditional finals week in May, with no afternoon classes.
Assistant Head of School

Lick-Wilmerding High School

755 Ocean Avenue | San Francisco, CA 94112 | 415.333.4021
A private school with public purpose, Lick-Wilmerding High School develops the head, heart, and hands of highly motivated students from all walks of life, inspiring them to become lifelong learners who contribute to the world with confidence and compassion.