Mr. Boccuzzi Announces Changes to Finals Format

On October 19, 2022, Upper School Director Ryan Bocuzzi met with Student Government to discuss the administration’s proposed changes to finals for this year. In addition to noting that it has already gone through iterations of revision by department heads, he expressed that the plan is in place only for this year; however, if the results of the new plan are positive, some variations of it could be implemented from next year onwards. 

According to Mr. Boccuzzi, the new finals schedule promotes the new administration’s and faculty’s end-of-year goals: aligning coursework with end-of-year assessment, letting both students and faculty have a balanced end to the year (teachers taking time off during other department’s finals gives them more time to write comments before grading finals—a process that was originally packed into the first two weeks of summer vacation), and providing a sense of closure to the year. 

Before announcing his plan, Mr. Boccuzzi noted that this year he wanted to promote the concept of “good stress”: “It’s unrealistic to say that there will be no stress at the end of year with end-of-year assessments, but we [the administration] are looking at ways to contain that stress into something that is healthy and productive, not overwhelming and anxiety-provoking.” 

The new finals schedule will see the elimination of Reading Day and a budget of four days for finals. On Thursday and Friday, there would be the usual A and B day rotation, but only science and English classes would meet for the final class of the year. On the next Monday and Tuesday, there would again be the usual A and B day rotation, but only math, history, and language classes would meet. This more fluid end-of-year schedule eliminates two-hour long final exams in the gym in favor of 70-minute assessments in class that would, consequently, be weighed similarly to any other test in a class. Mr. Boccuzzi also noted that classes are not obligated to have a final assessment during that final class — it could also act as a “wrap-up class” for the entire year. Importantly, there will be no homework or assessments on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the first day of finals, providing students with an opportunity to study. 

The new finals schedule will see the elimination of Reading Day and a budget of four days for finals.

After his announcement, Student Government members began offering questions and feedback: their primary concerns were that Reading Day is valuable to students, the scheduling of the exams may present challenges to some students, protecting test integrity will become more difficult, classes do not have a way to provide feedback to students, and these tests will not have a substantial impact on students’ grades. 

Mr. Boccuzzi addressed these issues one by one:

The days before the first two days of finals would provide some time for students to review, as it would be prohibited to teach new material during those days. While the administration is not currently mandating math, history, and language teachers to be on campus on the first two days of finals, they are considering ways for students to have access to their teachers during that time since it would provide students with ample opportunity to review. 

When a student brought up that in their grade last year, math, history, and language were the three most difficult final exams, Boccuzzi said that exams are grouped together based on a rotating schedule, and that their placement could be changed by the administration; however, departments typically prefer their finals to be first since it provides them with more time to grade finals and write comments. As for the fact that some students could have three exams continuously if they pulled the shortest straw with their schedules, Boccuzzi expressed that he does not believe that anyone should have to be in that situation, and individual arrangements would be made in those cases. 

When confronted with exam integrity questions, Boccuzzi noted that while the situation is not ideal, there is a small probability that anyone would get a large amount of help from the extra time, though he did note that later classes could get more time to prepare. It is likely, however, that with this new format, many classes will choose different assessment formats — in particular, departments like history and chemistry have noted their affinity for projects and labs over tests.

Mr. Boccuzzi will bring up the final two concerns from Student Government to the administration to find potential solutions. He will also mention the other issues representatives found. Overall, Student Government had a positive view of the changes proposed, but they are anticipating that Mr. Boccuzzi will workshop the plan with department heads to find a final solution.