Harriton’s midterm week returned this year after taking a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time an official midterm week took place was January 2020, two months before the major lockdown.
Once winter rolled around, both students and teachers were left wondering how these post-COVID exams would function. Prior to 2020, almost every midterm consisted of a generously sized packet paired with a complimentary open-ended essay. Additionally, similar to this year, a week consisting of half-days was dedicated to testing.
In hopes of collecting students’ opinions on this year’s midterms, I sent out a google form to a handful of Harriton juniors and seniors after they completed their assessments. All of the respondents shared that their midterms were not difficult, agreeing that the assignments were easier than in previous years. On average, the students had between two and six assessments, consisting of tests, essays, and projects.
Most juniors and seniors who remember their underclassman years would say that midterms were more difficult before COVID than they are now. This result is due to the recent flexibility teachers had in deciding what kind of midterm they wanted for their students: whether it be a test, project, essay, research paper, conference, or nothing at all.
The administration has reimplemented the classic midterm structure, and with this revisement, students seem more satisfied and less stressed about their exams. These results bring the question of if midterms should revert back to their original structure, or if this new design of end-of-semester testing is here to stay.
Harriton’s curriculum focuses on preparing students for college. However, the midterms and finals that are given in college depend on the specific course. For example, English classes would be more likely to assign a paper or essay, while computer science classes would have a project or test. Therefore, if the district wants a midterm week that provides students with a hint of the college experience, then they should reconsider how they approach it. Instead of swamping high schoolers with tests, the district could continue giving teachers the flexibility to decide how they will test their students. Hopefully, the midterm week will undergo changes that will benefit the Harriton community.