WHS Pleases Students With Cancellation of English and Art Midyears

Aurora Hebner

Every January, all teachers and most elective teachers administer mid-year assessments to their students. These assessments are usually lengthy and quite difficult, having to recall information students learned up to five months ago. From hundreds of math equations to multiple page essays about history, it is no mystery why students dread this week of school. The test most students cringe thinking about the most is English. Between analyzing books, quotes, vocabulary, grammar, and writing, the stress this test causes is overwhelming. This year, the English department decided to break from tradition and eliminate all mid-years, relieving students of extra stress during that week.

When asked about the cancellation of the tests, English department head Ms. Lauren Culliton first expressed that teachers are just as excited as the students about this change because the grading of these assessments is actually more arduous than taking the tests. Ms. Culliton said, “During PLC time, the department talks about the essential learning standards, which are to read critically and write well; vocabulary and grammar are a part of this, but writing is the primary goal of class, which is assessed through essays. Now, since it’s the end of the semester, with most classes writing major essays, it’s not the best time for giving and grading midyears.” However, there is a disadvantage in changing the midyear tradition in the English Department. “Students may begin to think of English as less important than their other academic classes,” said Culliton, which would be unfortunate. Many students agree with junior Nina Tobin who said, “If we have a final on the whole year, I’d rather just take a midyear.” But, Ms. Culliton expressed that there was no likelihood of finals being cancelled as well.

Instead of midyears, the English Department will use their midyear period to teach, so despite the longer period, the teachers plan to use the time constructively in the classroom.  So while the whole midyears week will remain intact in terms of scheduling, some blocks — whether it’s English or Art — will not be distributing scantrons and pencils; it will be just like every other day.

Junior honors English student, Holly Norberg, has the same opinions as most students who said, “It’s a huge relief to not have English midyears.” Other students though, such as junior honors English student Lukas Knight, worry about alternate stresses from English class. Knight said, “I’m pretty satisfied I’m not going to have to take another test but I just feel that English teachers will assign some lengthy essay or project instead once January rolls around.”

With most other classes being content-driven, the only department to follow the English department’s lead is the art department. Art teacher Mr. Richard Kim said, “we realized that things you do in art are cumulative, so it’s not essential for us to see how those skills stack up at midpoint because they continue to grow. The only true testament would be to see how well a student’s skills develop.” Because of this, the art department as a whole has decided to have final projects for term two instead of a test, which the students will have to complete by the day their midyear would normally be scheduled.

Though this assessment has been a tradition, the English and art departments thought it would be beneficial to eliminate the annual inconvenience of midyears. Students obviously hope that other departments will follow their lead; however, no future changes are in the works.  Currently, while English and Art have abandoned this specific assessment, other departments take pride in the effectiveness of these cumulative assessments, so students should not get their hopes up too high about any future changes.