Challenge Success or Challenge Fail?


John Vassiliou

“WA” on the side of Westford Academy

Unnati Bhat, Staff Writer

At the start of the 2017 school year, running on data from WA’s Challenge Success survey conducted in 2016, WA began to implement changes in line with Challenge Success’s mission. Westford Academy joined a year-long program called Challenge Success, a program adapted from Stanford University aiming to alleviate student stress and redefining what success means.

This means Challenge Success’s program is put in place for the last week of each term. Challenge Success entails a 15-minute free-block cut out of the second class of the day, every day of that week. 

Though the initial motive for Challenge success was to reduce the stress, it just may have done the opposite.

After being through challenge success each term, I will admit it is nice to have some time to study, review, or do work, but this time passes so quickly and comes with many other cons.

I, along with many students, feel challenge success is flawed. Challenge Success takes away class time from tests and doesn’t give students much time to do any significant amount of work. Though part of Challenge Success’s goals is to reduce homework, it doesn’t actually reduce nightly workload, failing to achieve their goal of lessening stress.

I believe Challenge Success had meaningful intentions, but the execution at our school is poor and doesn’t listen to the students or incorporate their ideas.

A better way to lessen stress would be to increases the block length and either shorten all classes or drop one. This gives students time to complete a significant amount of work, study, see a teacher with questions, get extra help, and eat a snack.

Shortening all classes would make it so students won’t have a test in a block with vital class time cut out due to Challenge Success, and then feel stressed because of the loss of time to complete the test. Though some teachers give shortened tests, many teachers do not, and the stress of less time is present.

My classmates and I have felt little to no difference when it comes to the nightly workload and amount of homework during Challenge Success week, some students even feel that there’s an increase in workload.

This is because the amount of tests during this week is greatly increased and challenge success’ policy entails capping CP and Honors courses at 30 minutes per night, and AP courses at 4-5 hours per week. These limits don’t include projects and study time, which often make up a majority of a student’s nightly workload.

Challenge Success needs to improve. Students are just as stressed, if not more during this week due to the heavy workload.

I believe that Challenge Success has not reached its goal of reducing student stress levels,  but our school can implement changes to do so. Westford Academy should hold a new survey for students regarding Challenge Success and update it accordingly. Challenge Success can be positive, but the student’s input needs to be considered, evaluated and applied, to make Challenge Success really a success.