Should we have Midterms?

Written by Liam Meecham |

I wanted to look into some of the reasons we have the mid-term assessment and how some of the students, staff and faculty feel about the midterm exams.

The first interview I conducted was with a student, Owen Zamecnik. I asked how he thought the assessment indicated what areas he is struggling with and what material he has mastered. He responded, “Though the test does help show what areas the student is more skilled or less equipped in, it all really depends on how much the student prepares for the exam. If the student doesn’t prepare with studying, they’re obviously not going to know the information required  so it’ll be a little more difficult actually figuring out where they’re struggling.”

Then I proceeded to ask him what he thought was more necessary: the midterm or the final? He stated that he felt the final is a little more important since many of the courses are half year courses. They only have finals since they don’t have enough time to have both a mid-term and a final. My final question to him was: “Do you feel there could be a more efficient way of following up on the students’ progress?”

He said, “I think the mid-term should still be a mid-term assessment that monitors students’ progress. But instead of being a big part of our grades, the scores should be insignificant (Don’t count against grade). This gives the student an idea of how well they are doing or how much they need to catch up, rather than hurting the grade of those who don’t do so well.”

I also spoke with a teacher about midterm exams.  I asked Mr. Bergman how he thought the assessment helped the teacher. His reply was ” It helps get a sense of how the students relate to some of the topics explored throughout the English course. I’m somewhat opposed to exams that measure factual retention since futurist Seth Godin tells us that,” …anything worth memorizing is worth looking up.”  I next asked him how necessary a mid year assessment was compared to a full year assessment,” The type of exam is contingent on the type  of course; however, I would be much more interested in seeing a student’s ongoing development in critical and collective thought.”

Mr. Bergman explained that midterms are a “part of an Industrialized education narrative.” He would not be in favor of eliminating them, “but I do believe it’s time to have a serious talk about it. Perhaps the junior portfolio is moving in the right direction.” Last I asked if he thought there might be another way of assessing the students’ progress,” A project based on learning I feel would be the best assessment, more formative then summative. Many prominent education theorist have researched a nature of learning  and are opening up new avenues of this course.”

Mrs. Hagness, an administrator, explained how she thought midterm’s scores benefit the teacher, “It helps determine how well the student is retaining the semesters knowledge in material such as reading comprehension, essay skills. A midterm also helps set up the second semester’s course outline such as what needs to be reviewed again.”  When I asked her if she thought there may be another method of assessing the students’ progress,she replied, ” A portfolio, viewing progression of work, could greatly help the teacher figure out the how the teacher can help improve the student’s retention of what he or she is learning In class.”

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