Similar to raises and bonuses in the real world, the S to the Fifth program is a solid way to incintivise seniors through their last year of high school. Standing for “Second Semester Senior Stress Solution,” the program was introduced to allow seniors to be exempt from taking their second semester finals. It was later modified to include first semester finals. This is generally looked upon as a positive program as it tends to keep the seniors working to hold their grades up and counteracts the effects of the ominous “senioritis.”
However, the criteria to skip finals tends to be quite high. As of right now, seniors are able to skip up to four finals in both semesters only if they have no lower than a B+ either 9 weeks and an average of at least an A- for the semester in each class they want to skip. The other kicker is that students cannot miss a class more than twice per semester. Out of the approximately 45 periods each class meets, students must be present over 95% of the time. Considering your grade only needs to hold at an average of 90%, the attendance criteria is more heavily emphasized by the policy. However, holding seniors to such a high standard for such a huge stress-relief incentive tends to keep their grades high; most seniors wouldn’t want to relearn all of their Calculus curriculum a week prior to the end of the semester. All in all, the S to the 5th program has been able to positively keep seniors working to strive for another goal in their academics.
Earlier this year, the admininstration planned to change the criteria of the program. Students would only have to maintain a B- average for the semester. Oh, and juniors could apply for S to the Fifth, too. This was outstanding news for the 651 juniors that were blessed with a chance to miss their finals.
The way final semester grades work, with the final exam being worth about 20% of a class’s final grade, final exams can realistically only hurt grades. A junior with two A’s in a Physics class would have to score at least an A- on their final to hold their grade. The final is also comprised of everything that kid has learned for the last 18 weeks. Presumably, that student with high grades was able to achieve those grades by studying a specific topic for unit tests. If you add in all the other topics, along with months to forget the first few units, they more than likely will underperform on their final that they more than likely crammed, and their grade may not fully represent how well they understand the class material. Thus, adding juniors to the program seemed to be rewarding for the kids that have been working hard for at least 5 semesters of high school. Likewise, the grade drop may have been drastically helpful to the seniors who tend to earn grades in the B range, providing another incentive for those students to hold their grades and not stop working because their high school career is beginning to close.
However, a month after announcing these changes (without a final exam even taking place), the criteria was reverted to the original constraints of only seniors and an A- average. This decision enraged a good number of students. Juniors have been working extra hard for an incentive that was immediately stripped from them. Why not reward these juniors, especially after you tell them you are going to? Even if the system seems to not work out, why not wait until a final exam period has at least taken place to allow for your changes to follow through? This reversion created a whopping amount of false hope for a great portion of our school, and changing it back was unfair to the students who have been striving for something they thought they could achieve.
I’m not saying that I agree with the lower grade change and the addition of juniors to the program. I took my junior finals, so I have a biased opinion that they should too. I will be taking mine this year based on attendance, not grades. However, for the admin to change the criteria for the program and to change it back half-way through the semester is unfair. They told students they needed to reach certain goals and then raised the standard for the reward. In some cases, by the time the changes were reversed, it was too late for students to skip their finals.