Dead week, dead policy

January 28, 2010 — by Apeksha Sharma and Kyumin Shim

In the week leading up to finals, teachers are “strongly advised” to not assign homework or new material. However, many teachers bend this “suggestion” and continue to assign homework, projects and sometimes a test. This is a policy that needs to be enforced strongly so students can get the time they need to prepare for their final exams.

Although “dead week” is supposed to be about students taking time off to review last-minute details of a semester’s worth of instruction, the week sometimes turns out to be very much alive. Students often find themselves scrambling to finish new assignments.

To be fair to both parties, teachers should only be allowed to assign optional assignments and reading materials that would be due in the later weeks after finals. This way, students will be able to study for their exams while keeping in mind the assignments that will be due in the future.

It is not just homework assigned during this week, but also tests that cause stress for students. Teachers should not be naive enough to think that their students are merely reviewing for their finals—for a majority of students, dead week is a hellish period of time spent re-learning all the material from the semester—months worth of curriculum. Although this way of thinking does not apply to a majority of the teachers here, that small number of teachers still have negative impacts on the students.

The inconsistencies surrounding dead week is yet another reminder that the Saratoga High has yet to make a school-wide homework policy. The protocol for assigning homework over breaks, weekends and “dead weeks” is so vague that teachers tend to ignore them.

For example, tests given on Mondays force students to finish the homework for all classes over the weekend, as well as prepare for that test. While the loaded Monday schedule may be to blame for this struggle, it is important, above all else, for teachers to be understanding. Students need their weekends to recharge, ensuring a productive week. Even energizer bunnies need to stop and take a break.

It is possible that, in the future, this problem will disappear as the finals schedule is moved before the winter break. Dead week will no longer be a problem as teachers will begin testing in December. But until then, extra pressure during this week can be managed by encouraging teachers to only assign optional homework and only have testing that cannot be avoided because of scheduling issues. Cooperation from both students and teachers is necessary to make “dead week” truly dead.