Opinion: Cancel midterms

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Credit: Genevieve Morrison

WSPN’s Genevieve Morrison discusses the need to cancel the upcoming midterm exams in math and science courses.

Genevieve Morrison

Midterms were a debated topic before, but the recent COVID-19 surge has shifted the situation dramatically. With the omicron variant ravaging Wayland High School, keeping midterms would be detrimental to students.

The Wayland School Committee recently shortened the required quarantine period from ten days to five days. Even so, this is a significant span of time to miss school. Missing even one day of school brings a daunting amount of catch-up work. Especially now, two weeks away from midterms. If you miss a full school week’s worth of instruction, you are at a clear disadvantage when exams roll around.

It’s also blatantly unfair to require that students miss this amount of school with essentially no option for virtual instruction. Administration has been clear that there will be no online option for classes, instead suggesting that you work with your “counselor to coordinate your schoolwork.” This is a nice notion, but at the end of the day, there’s not much a guidance counselor can do to replicate five whole days absent from school. This is not a hit at their abilities, it’s just simply impossible to catch a student up without them first falling behind. In this timeline, students just can’t afford that.

With this in mind, many WHS students are terrified of testing positive. Not for the health effects, but because they are afraid to miss school. Many parents are now opting their students out of pooled testing, fearing that if their child tests positive, they will be stuck between a rock and a hard place when Jan. 27 comes.

Due to the current shortage of at-home tests, if students are not getting pool tested, this means that they are not getting tested. Every day, students are attending school and extracurriculars with COVID-19 unbeknownst to them. If they are asymptomatic, which 40% of COVID-19 positive people are, they won’t even attempt to get tested. Who knows how many people will be infected due to this carelessness. A couple of exams are not worth risking the health and wellbeing of our entire school community.

Aside from the stress of midterms, students are now faced with a separate problem: the week before. Many teachers want to test their students on their current unit before midterms. Subjects that don’t have midterms will also be testing normally. This means that in the week before midterms, most students will have tests in every subject and will have to study for those tests as well as midterms.

Teachers that aren’t administering a midterm are stuck in a unique situation. As we approach the end of the quarter, many want to wrap up the semester with assessments. However, since they cannot give assessments during midterms, they have to test the week before. They still have designated “testing days” that they must adhere to, which creates an unyielding timeline. The fact that next week is a four-day week only further restricts this. As a result, teachers are rushing to test their students before the semester ends, perhaps prematurely.

A main argument in favor of midterms is that they prepare students for college. The concept of exam week is structural to university testing, and by replicating this process at WHS, students will be prepared when they enter higher education. However, this argument is irrelevant now. Upperclassmen at Wayland have already experienced exam week, and they know how to study as well as strategies to test-taking. It’s true that freshmen and sophomores have yet to take any cumulative exams, but it’s not now or never. They still have several years of high school left, and midterms this year is not their last opportunity to take a test like this.

I’m not saying we should never have exam week again. I’m saying that holding midterms under these conditions would be unfair.

This late in the game, many think it’s better for administrators to stick to their guns and for students to just power through midterms. However, this is easier said than done. Midterms count for 10% of your final grade in the class. Doing poorly on a midterm can be devastating to your grade point average and your transcript. It’s unfair to make students take a high stakes test under this amount of duress.

While it seems like this is out of our control as students, it’s not a lost cause. Our school wants the best for us, so it’s our job to vocalize our concerns. Students, use your voice and urge administrators to cancel midterms. Staff, listen to us and know that our misgivings aren’t based on laziness, but a realization of what we know is best.