Story By: Lilie Theby
4 February, 2022
“I just hate tests,” said Lea Williams, a sophomore at Atholton, encompassing the feeling of most high schoolers.
In the 2020-2021 school year, the Howard County Public School System elected to cancel midterms. This was made in regards to student mental health and virtual school options. With this decision, there have been conflicting thoughts from both students and staff.
“I feel indifferent. A little conflicted. I knew it was a big part of our grade but it didn’t feel that different from a regular test. At the same time, I think my stress level decreased,” said Williams.
This school year, like last school year, the Board of Education voted to eliminate midterms for 2021-2022. This decision did not include the removal of final exams, rather it raised the percentage they count towards a student’s total grade in the course from 5% to 10% (previously finals and midterms would each make up 5% of a student’s final grade).
Some students and teachers rejoiced with the promise of less work and less stress. Many of these students noted that midterms were stressful for them, negatively affecting their mental health. Teachers supporting the elimination of midterms felt that this was an ideal situation as the end of the semester is already a busy time.
Some students and staff mourned the loss of the test. Other staff feel as if midterms are an effective way to view progress of their students, and students feel that a midterm is a good way to increase their grade or prepare them for the end of year finals.
“I understand the material well, so I think the midterms would be a great opportunity to, well, make my grade better,” said one Atholton student.
Ms. Johnson Rolle, a computer science and Educational Academy teacher at Atholton, agreed. “I really do think we should have them. Mid-year is a perfect marker for the content of a course. Not having them will make it so much harder for students to succeed in their finals, which now makes up a larger portion of their grade,” she said. Ms. Johnson Rolle recognized that while many students were likely excited about not having another test to prepare for, they should take into account what that will mean about their final tests.
Many students disagree. “With the time I had off from midterms being canceled I was allowed time to relax, hang out with friends, and sleep. Some much needed stress relievers,” said Ella Howarth. Ella also noted that she is unsure how her teachers may feel about this change as it is different from previous years they have been teaching.
Students these days are constantly busy with studying, after school activities, balancing family time, work, and more. “Studying for midterms would just be another thing to add to my to-do list,” explained an Atholton student. They mentioned that with all of the work from their classes, it would increase their stress. It is difficult to squeeze time in there for extra studying unless it cuts into their already waning sleep schedule. For teachers, they aim to help their students to the best of their abilities.
There are other changes being made regarding testing in other places around the United States. Similar to Howard County, many schools have been canceling midterms and others are making tests virtual due to the pandemic and student mental health concerns. With this in mind, counties such as Howard County have begun implementing things such as “Mental Health days” where students and teachers leave school three hours ealy in efforts to allow them time to destress.
The College Board is also currently attempting to make the SAT and reduce the time from three to two hours. With the pandemic and more research into the wellbeing of students, changes are being made for testing and will continue to be.
“Honestly,” said Lea Williams. “Either way I guess I’m just happy I don’t have to take them [midterms].”