Should Stevenson shift entire year for early finals?

Other suburban schools may also adjust calendar to give finals before winter break

  • Stevenson High School officials are considering adjusting future school calendars so students can take first-semester final exams before winter break instead of in January.

      Stevenson High School officials are considering adjusting future school calendars so students can take first-semester final exams before winter break instead of in January. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2013

 
 
Updated 5/23/2015 7:02 AM

Stevenson High School officials are considering adjusting future school calendars so students can take first-semester final exams before winter break instead of in January.

That move would require the school year to start earlier than usual. Classes would end earlier, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The proposal is in its infancy and is far from a done deal. The school board likely will form a task force this summer to investigate the pros and cons of changing the school calendar and the exam schedule, Stevenson spokesman Jim Conrey said.

Final exams for first-semester classes typically are administered in the second week after students return from winter break, Conrey said. This year, that was mid-January.

Students and teachers typically spend the preceding week preparing for the tests, Conrey said.

Moving the tests to before winter break would give students and teachers a "clean break" before vacation. They'd come back and immediately start second semester, rather than spending a week preparing for finals.

"You don't have anything hanging over your head while you're on break," Conrey said.

Moving up the tests, however, would require an earlier start to the school year and could mean a shorter first semester, Conrey said.

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The 2014-15 term started Aug. 21.

The year likely would end earlier, too -- possibly before Memorial Day, he said.

Administrators, teachers and students have informally discussed changing the finals schedule through the years, but no action has been taken.

Unscientific surveys have shown teachers and students are split down the middle on the idea, Conrey said.

Stevenson High students, staffers and parents aren't the only people who would be affected by a schedule change. So would the families and employees who are part of the elementary and middle schools that feed into Stevenson.

Stevenson shares bus service with some of those schools, and that would be affected, Conrey said. Parents with kids at Stevenson and at a lower-level grade school would have to make some schedule adjustments, too, he said.

"There's a certain amount of synchronicity that we try to achieve (with schedules)," Conrey said. "We try to work with (the other schools) to make sure we don't have a lot of chaos."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If the Stevenson board opts to tweak the calendar, the change couldn't be implemented until at least the 2016-17 term, Conrey said.

"And that might be pushing it," he said.

You can share your opinion about the proposal by taking a survey on the Stevenson High Facebook page, facebook.com/stevensonhs.

A more scientific survey is likely down the road, Conrey said.

Stevenson High isn't the only suburban school looking at changing the schedule to move up final exams.

Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 parents, students and employees were surveyed on the topic earlier this year, too.

Results showed a majority of people favored the change.

The high schools in Elgin Area Unit School District U-46 made the change ahead of the 2013-14 term. Barrington High School made the change this year.

Maine Township High School District 207 will start the 2015-16 year earlier so finals are before the break.

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