Pandemic nixes exams


Kelsey Harris

Midterms and finals have both been canceled this year.

For the last few weeks of each semester, students prepare in each class for their two hour exams covering the last four and a half months. This year – due to coronavirus – students get a break from that stress.

“It [cancelling exams] was the right decision. Midterms would have gone badly, as hybrid just started and it would be unfair to the students who struggled in remote,” said math teacher Sarah Keene. “Finals would also be unfair as remote students could not be proctored like hybrid students.”

Spanish teacher Robyn Spain agreed. 

I think that there are better ways to use the time we have left than reviewing for and taking final exams.” We usually spend two weeks preparing for exams, and that is time we do not have this year. I’ve been able to give students more time to practice concepts and use smaller assessments to determine their progress,” said Spain.

Students said they would put up no fight against eliminating this year’s exams.

“I assumed there was no way we would have exams this year. Once the decision was made I was still ecstatic though,” said senior Gabe Bastug. “Exam weeks are the worst  two weeks of the whole school year.” 

Many teachers have no arguments about the decision either.

“It [no exams] is a huge weight off their [students’] shoulders, especially with sophomores, juniors, and seniors, as freshmen have not experienced full exams yet. It is just one less thing to stress students right now,” said Spain.

But some concerns have arisen about the necessity of these exams.

“I do not believe that these exams are essential to teaching math. They help with confirming long term retention, but quizzes and tests are a better way to confirm students are learning. It has been hard this year figuring out what students actually know,” said Keene.

A Mountaineer educator expressed a more positive view of the comprehensive assessments. 

“While exams are not essential, I view them as a very useful tool,” said Spain. “They help with identifying topics that students struggle understanding and inspire the staff to change their teaching style. It also helps determine if students are at the correct level or if they should move up or down.”

Many teachers believe exams should return in the future as they provide useful information for teachers and help students.

“Midterms and finals are a good thing for students,” said Keene. “Since we are a college prep school, it is important for kids to learn how to take these big exams.”