I have a modest proposal for the state and city officials responsible for placing Regents exams a week after finals: Could you please flip the schedule and schedule Regents before finals?
While not all city high school students take Regents exams in January, there are no classes at all in most New York City high schools during the state exams week. Yet nearly all take finals, or midterms in many of their classes a week before.
That means that last week, my two high schoolers had multiple midterm or final exams on the same day, nearly every day. They stayed up way too late studying – or, at least I think that's what they were doing. Their bedroom became a landfill of crumpled paper, flashcards, calculators and notebooks. Tired and cranky, they complained they didn't have adequate time to prepare.
Flash forward to this week, which seems to have become a Bacchanalian festival of free time for high school students who are done with finals and aren't taking Regents exams until June.
As I left for work yesterday, two teenagers were crashed on a pull-out sofa in the living room, while two (maybe even three) were sprawled on a bedroom floor. (They have to go somewhere.)
They had not the slightest inclination of waking up before noon, after a tough night of watching movies, playing video games, devouring anything edible and sharing Facebook posts.
Last year around this time, I was beating myself up for not doing more advance planning for Regents week, which always takes me by surprise. I was sure I'd be better prepared this time, figuring out ways to get them in a community service program, give them extra household chores or work on reading and writing assignments.
Once again, I've failed miserably. Can you imagine the response to my suggestion that they get ahead for next semester by reading some of the books in advance, or getting a jump on the math they'll be learning?
I've lowered my expectations this year. The teenagers looked so peaceful and relaxed when I tiptoed out that I couldn't help feeling a little envious at all the downtime they are enjoying with their friends, even though I wish they had made better use of it.
I left a note pointing out where to find replacement cereal and cookies, with a p.s. reminder that it would be awfully nice not to come home to a mess.
Mostly, though, it would have been better to have them off last week while Regents exams were administered, giving them time to actually study and prepare for final exams that should be taking place now.
Such a small modification could boost student achievement and possibly impact graduation rates. And it would certainly be easier on working parents who would rather not host or clean up after moveable feasts.