Midterm and Final Exam Periods Recalibrated at SHS

Anna Conroy and Caroline Stevenson

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Midterms and finals–everyone’s least favorite time of the year. The time when mental breakdowns and stress become second nature and your eyes feel as though they may just fall onto your myriad note cards. Although we remain a safe three and a half months away from the standard beginning of review sessions and expected study guides, there have already been new changes implemented by Scituate High School’s administration concerning the midterm and final schedule, a change that affects every student at SHS. 

A little under a month ago, Scituate High School Principal Robert Wargo announced an alteration in the typical testing protocol. Before, each quarter was weighted 20% of an individual’s final grade, and every midterm and final grade amounted to 10% of their final grade. Now, these tests will simply be integrated into the individual’s 2nd and 4th quarter grades, rather than having such a significantly large weighted value. 

As for the logistics of this change, the previous 90-minute, shortened-day schedule will remain. However, all SHS teachers are required to use these allotted times–if not for tests, then for reflection, presentations, or class discussions to ensure a demonstration of learning. In past years, some teachers did not require their students to come into school if they weren’t administering an exam. Midterm and final exams were administered at the teacher’s discretion. However, Principal Wargo believes this year’s policy change will be beneficial for the entire classroom environment: “Now educators can determine what to do with their time,” he commented.

Of course, with any change, there are always concerns and questions that erupt, with this change being no exception. Many parents and students are worried, with parents specifically concerned that their children will no longer be prepared for the stress-filled college exams, that in some cases can determine an entire grade. Wargo hopes to dispel this thought, as he believes the school’s education system is simply adapting to the technology-driven world we are currently living in, and not just trying to get rid of the stressors in a high schooler’s life. “We are not eliminating them–we are just trying to approach them differently,” explained Wargo. 

Wargo commented that educators should adapt to their students’ needs, not the other way around. The new goal is to eliminate the pattern of students sucking up information, applying it to tests, and forgetting it all during the days and weeks following the assessment. Bluntly, this common occurrence is not learning. It is only an attempt by students to get through these anxiety-inducing weeks. Wargo believes it’s important to “just deal with stress in a way that’s developmentally appropriate,” rather than allowing this pattern to continue as it is. 

Rethinking the value of midterm and final exams, many surrounding high schools–and even colleges–are shifting toward project-based learning, which focuses on real-world skills, such as communication and cooperation. Scituate High School wants to prepare its students for their future educational and career paths.“I think we (the administration) are driven by what is best for our students,” says Wargo, believing that the only way to ensure the best outcome is to diversify how educators assess their students. 

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