Students and educators enjoy elimination of exams

Last January students returned to school for the first time since March 2020.  This January students experienced another change – no midyear exams. 

“For midyears this year, the administrative team made the decision to not have them,” said principal William Beando.  “We thought that [canceling them] was best for students and staff at the time given the COVID situation, given the uptake of cases, and given the amount of student absences at the time when we made the decision.”

Several students admitted that eliminating midterms alleviated stress.

“It’s a relief. It feels like school stress has been taken off,” said sophomore Annmarie Kane.

Sophomore Denali Herbert agreed.  

“The expectation of rethinking all of the information from two quarters causes a lot of anxiety for me,” said Herbert.  “So I was glad they canceled them [midyear exams].”

Freshmen and sophomores have not taken a large-scale test like the midterm exam while in high school.  

“Before midterms were canceled, I felt nervous. After I heard they were canceled I found a bit of relief. I believe I personally benefited from the tests being canceled because I was not ready and I did not know what it takes to do well on the tests,” said freshman Angelina Faiola. 

The Regional last administered midyear exams in January 2020.

“I’m relieved that I don’t have to study as much now. Especially for harder classes because it would’ve been too stressful,” said junior Aaron Brenn. 

According to the administration, teachers had varied feelings about the decision.  

“The staff was pretty divided as they see a lot of value in midyears and finals,” said Beando. “But at the time we made the decision both students and staff had to be out for 10 days if they tested positive or were close contacts. It just seemed like an extreme amount of time for someone to be out of school and then to also have to worry about taking cumulative midyear exams. I didn’t think that would do anyone any good.”

Spanish teacher Erin DeStratis said she agreed with eliminating midyear exams.

“I think it was a good decision to cancel midterms,” said DeStratis. “Students and teachers have missed a lot of class time. It would be really stressful for them to have to come back and take a bunch of tests.”

English teacher Emily Reynolds had similar feelings about the decision.  

“It’s very difficult for kids who have missed class,” said Reynolds. “They [students] would have to catch up on missed work and still take their midterm. This would give students who missed work a disadvantage starting quarter 3.”

While many Mountaineers celebrated the cancellation of midterms, faculty members admitted that negative aspects of the new schedule existed. 

“With the cancellation of midterms, we lost the week of half days,” said DeStratis. “There is still some stress left over for the kids who have a lot of work to make up, but now they have more time to do so without worrying about their tests.”

Students said they also lost time to practice for AP [Advanced Placement] exams.

“If you’re taking AP exams, it’s better to have midterms because they are good for preparation,” said Brenn. 

According to students, since they have experienced shortened, online AP tests for the past two years, midterms would have provided very beneficial practice for timed, hand-written, and full llength AP exams. 

“Instead many teachers gave project-based assignments that [students] could do at home so they didn’t have to worry about missing class or a test,” said Brenn. 

While freshman and sophomores have not yet experienced a high school midterm, juniors and seniors said they enjoyed a breather from a year filled with tests. 

“Not having to take the midterms, as a junior, was a lot less stressful than years prior. As a freshman, the weeks building up to the midterms were filled with stress and anxiety filled worksheets as you tried to figure out what you were going to do and study,” said junior Abigail Martin.  “In a year [11th grade] filled with other tests, such as the SATs, ACTs, and MCAS, having to not take the midterms helped with a lot of stress and anxiety that was building up to midterms.”

Senior Alexander Haddock agreed that not having to take the midterm exams definitely decreased stress levels for everyone involved. 

“I was getting increasingly stressed about midterms up until they were canceled. Once they were canceled, it felt like a massive weight was off my shoulders,” said Haddock. “Both my grade and my teachers benefited. Students did not have to worry about the test and teachers did not have to grade them.” 

According to administrators, eliminating the midyear exams increased classroom teaching time. 

“I wanted to make sure that we had as much time in class, and I believe that we have most students with gaps in where they would typically be this year with learning,” said Beando.  “I hope that with the four additional days where midterms usually would have been, teachers would be able to fill these gaps in knowledge and students would be able to catch up for their COVID absences.”