The return of midterms this school year has become a crucial topic of discussion for both teachers and students. Midterms are assessments given to high school students to test their knowledge during the end of the first semester. These exams are similar to finals, as they require students to prepare months in advance, they determine how the student is absorbing the material, and how the teacher progresses in their teaching.
Many RHS students assume that midterms were terminated during the COVID-19 outbreak; however, this is not the case. According to Mrs. Taylor, the science supervisor, Ridgewood High School decided to eliminate midterms in 2015 because with the increase in state testing requirements, there was also an increase in concerns about overtesting high school students.
Last school year, only final exams were brought back without midterms. Therefore, no students at RHS this year have experienced midterm exams, although all students (excluding freshmen) have taken finals. So why change things now? According to Mrs. Taylor, “Midterms have resumed as a result of feedback we received from returning college students that many college assessments consist of large exams that comprise a large portion of the course grade. It was deemed important to provide students with opportunities to develop study skills for these larger exams.”
Most teachers have not yet begun discussing midterms, for it is only the second month of the school year. Even so, RHS teacher Dr. Labowsky claims that “[teachers] should be prepared for the midterm. Since midterm reviews and exams will take more than one week of class time, it will affect the class time to cover the material for the second half of the year.”
“I think they chose to bring them back because colleges give midterms, and I think a lot of Ridgewood graduates weren’t prepared to take them, so bringing them back better prepares us for that,” says Maya Roth, an RHS senior. The college process has changed since prior to the global pandemic, but midterms are still being distributed at undergraduate schools. Therefore, it is necessary for high school students to have a sense of what they are like.
Additionally, Elisabeth Winnert, a freshman at RHS, thinks that “the purpose of midterms is to see how well students are retaining the information they’ve learned throughout the year so far,” bringing up the point that midterms can also serve as a progress check in a student’s learning.
Some false rumors had circulated through the entire school about the return of midterms replacing finals rather than an additional test to finals; other students are curious as to why this is the case. Students were less stressed last year due to the return of finals alone, but the pressure on students will most likely increase now that both tests are required. Regardless, midterm exams do have benefits for students, allowing them to use their tests to get a better understanding of how finals will be.
Graphic: Jenny Yang