After one of the most traumatic weeks in our city’s history, Kinkaid students were offered a momentary sigh of relief at 2:58 p.m. on Sept. 3, when the revised “US Weekly Bulletin” appeared in their inboxes. As students glossed over the details for the upcoming week, the last bullet caused their heart to pound: “End of semester exams have been cancelled this December.”
While students were beyond thankful some relief had finally come from Hurricane Harvey, a category three storm that caused immense flooding and trauma in our community, consequences associated with the cancellation of semester exams seemed to be overlooked.
I would like to clarify that I am not complaining about the cancellation of Midterms, but instead, addressing the repercussions that have the possibility to appear as a result of their cancellation. My hope is that this piece will serve as a warning to students to be better prepared.
Although all the details have yet to be finalized, Dr. Martire explained in his “Headmaster’s E-Bulletin” that no first semester vacation days will be altered as a result of cancelling semester exams. However, don’t be too quick to celebrate. The email continues on to clarify that “second semester vacation days are still to be determined.” Therefore, while our two-hour a day exams may have been cancelled, the same fate may fall upon President’s Day or even a faculty inservice day or two.
On a similar note, the last week of classes, which usually consist of a series of half days, will be full days of school. Although teachers are not allowed to assign cumulative tests, the final week will be full of end of semester assignments and unit exams.
Most students don’t perceive Midterms as something that raises their grade; however, there is always the cases of the dreaded 89.4 percent. Without Midterms, there is no final desperate attempt to achieve the A- for the semester. Not only may this change affect students’ grades, but also their understanding of material as a whole, which is especially important for AP exams.
“In many AP classes, we build on what we learn as we move forward (skills and concepts). Midterm is a great time to put all of it together and assess the students’ ability to make bigger connections and apply their specific knowledge to ‘themes’ and ‘big picture’ ideas. Not having a final will put us in a position to get creative in providing such opportunities organically throughout the fall and spring terms,” said Science Department Head, Dr. Sonia Clayton.
My final concern resides with the students. In knowing that Midterms will not pose a threat, many students may be tempted to coast through the final weeks of the semester. The cancellation of semester exams does not equal the cancellation of the end of semester workload; therefore, the lack of Midterms may actually cause a lower semester grade overall for some students.
Contrary to what this opinion may convey, I am in fact very appreciative of the administration’s decision to eliminate Midterms this Winter; I am simply being realistic as to address potential concerns. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to witness what effects Midterms’ cancellation will have on final exams as well as AP exam scores. An even more interesting question may arise if there are no effects at all: Is there any benefit to having midterms annually?