Who’s Giving Midterms this Year?

Lily Grazioso, Staff Writer

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Teachers of Scituate High School are faced with a new and controversial dilemma: Should their classes be given a midterm exam? I scoured the school for different perspectives from teachers and hoped to get three distinct opinions on the midterm policy.
This policy is based on a new interpretation of student mental health. Midterms are considered long, straightforward, standardized tests that are the optimal way to extract extensive knowledge from students. Is this new policy more beneficial for students’ grades?
In most cases, no. Most students can agree on both questions–that not every student is capable of doing their absolute best on a standardized test. Junior Emma Huggins agrees: “There’s no one way to test students,” she said, “it’s not fair to the students who might be different learners.”
SHS science teacher Jen Last found a compromise in her Anatomy and Physiology class. While the students are taking a formal midyear, their end of the year exam is a practical lab. “They’re getting a little bit of both,” she commented. Last understands the purpose of the change, and agrees with the choice, “as long as it’s a justified decision,” but she also agrees that it’s taking away the idea of dealing with high-stress environments, and students should be ready for these situations when they arise.
Similarly, SHS math teacher Phil Blake understood the idea of the change, but it doesn’t fit adequately with his math classes. “You need to be prepared for national standardized tests such as the PARCC, SAT, and ACT,” he said.
These two teachers agree that the policy can help unite the semesters, which are broken up by winter break, midterm week, and February break. Doing projects during the breaks is also a great way to keep students engaged with the material while getting the same amount of work done as on a test.
The last teacher I talked to was Ann Doremus, the new  AP United States History (APUSH) teacher. I figured her perspective would be in favor of project-based midterms. She felt the same: “I think for history, there’s a certain quality to having an extended period of time to write.” Doremus understands the significance of standardized tests, but with the amount of analysis that history uses in its regular curriculum, she has seen better and more developed results in project-based learning.
To summarize, teachers seem to agree that both sides of the policy can be beneficial–their decision about administering exams depends on the subject and learning styles of students.