Revised Midterm Policy in Full Swing

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Last year at this time, students were taking exams. Photo by Noa Schabes ’17.

With the revised midterm policy in full swing, how are things going?

In December, after losing class time to holidays and an abundance of special schedules, the administration moved away from traditional midterms, which included a review week leading into a week of exams before the holiday break.

In a November interview with The Gator, Upper School Head Joshua Neudel said that teachers would determine the best type of assessment for their classes, and how to use class time most effectively.

Teachers were also offered the option of assigning a project or exam before or after the break. For the first time in at least recent School history, teachers were not required to give an end-of-semester exam or project.

School follows a normal schedule this week, with exams occurring per teacher discretion during class time. Students will have no assessments or projects due the week returning from break, but exams will continue the week of Monday, Jan. 9, the final week of the semester.

“This change makes me feel more stressed,” says Peng Zhang ‘18. “As a Chinese student, I am more comfortable with taking tests. But completing lots of projects at once is kind of too much—especially with sports after school.”

“The changes are very helpful,” says Steven Ramsden ‘19. “They relieve a lot of stress because you don’t have to focus on as many high-stakes exams. You have a chance to learn a lot more new material during class time, especially without a week of review. I think it’s going to have a positive impact on Brimmer and May.”

Math teacher Peter Slaski agrees. “It’s good to get class time back,” he says. “Organizing that change was done mindfully for students to not have a heavy workload before and after the break.”

But some teachers say that the new policy, introduced midway through the semester, caught students off-guard.

Math Department Chair Nancy Bradley said that many of her students had grown accustomed to the idea of an exam review week followed by midterms. “I like the idea behind the change, but I feel that some students were confused by it,” she said.

English teacher Kenley Smith echoed Bradley’s sentiments. “The change has allowed a lot more freedom for the kinds of assessments teachers find most appropriate,” she said. “But students seem anxious about the changes, even as they seem grateful for them.” 

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