Administration Eliminates Traditional Midyear Schedule


Anna Van der Linden

While teachers typically used scantrons to administer midyears in the past, students may see them more infrequently with the change to the midyear schedule. 

Since the changes to the midyear exam schedule proposed in September caused a number of complaints from the school community, Walpole High School administration created another proposal for the controversial midyear week.

The latest? No midyear schedule at all.

In last year’s schedule, the school day consisted of two exam blocks, one from 7:30-9:15, the second from 9:30-11:15. Depending on whether the students had one or two tests that day, students left school at either 9:15 or 11:15.  With the exception of English and some electives, all departments historically administered midyears.  While teachers were contractually obligated to stay at school until 2:20, the rest of their day (from 11:15-2:20) consisted of grading exams.

This year however, Walpole High School administration announced that during the week in which the school typically has shortened days for midyear exams, there will now be just a typical week with no alteration to the daily schedule.

“Essentially, there will not be a ‘midyear week’. The daily schedule will run as normal. The only difference is that we might not have a PLC schedule that week,” said Principal Stephen Imbusch.  “From an educational point of view, [the new policy] will be less disruptive to the instructional process.”

Because the week of midyears usually came two-three weeks after Christmas Break and two weeks before February Vacation, Mr. Imbusch believes that the elimination of this disruptive week should improve student learning.

“Typically, midyear exam grades are lower than term grades,” Mr. Imbusch said. “It is my opinion that there will be an improvement in learning with our new schedule.”

Because these exams, which are major long-term assessments of the students’ knowledge, are no longer being administered in many classes, teachers are weighing the value of shorter, more continuous assessments. Mr. Imbusch said, “[Shorter, more frequent assessments] allow students to learn from their mistakes and make adjustments.”

Some teachers have expressed concern over the lack of a long term assessment, for these types of tests can be good practice for finals in college. For instance, Mrs. Milne and the rest of the Math Department will be administering midyear exams for students. “At the college level, typically you’re responsible for a semester’s worth of work, not a full year’s, so I support having a midyear and then a final as a second semester’s exam,” said Mrs. Milne.

Because some teachers believe that large, cumulative tests such as midyear examinations are necessary to determine whether or not students are able to maintain the knowledge and skills learned throughout the year, the decision of whether or not to give a midyear exam to students will be up to each department.

“My expectation is that teachers will still give tests, but that they will become a more integral part of the learning process,” said Mr. Imbusch.

Some teachers may not give any exam, while those who do must administer exams in the time allotted in a typical day, as there are no extended class blocks specifically for exams. Teachers can choose what day to give their exam and have the option to spread it over more than one class period.

Regarding the new schedule, students like this proposal more than the previous proposal where students had an extended “exam” block in the morning followed by four classes for a duration of seven days (so every period could have the capacity to administer a longer exam).

“I think the change is better than having the exams and then having class for the rest of the day like we were going to originally,” said junior Nicole Marvas, “but this also makes finals more stressful because they count for more of our grade.”

Many Advanced Placement students are apprehensive about the policy, for if some teachers decide to give a midyear, students will have to prepare for the exam on top of their other homework.

Junior Katie Houser, who takes three AP classes, said “I think it’s good that teachers can choose whether or not to have a midyear, but for the teachers who do choose to give midyears it will be more difficult to study because we will have other classes to focus on as well and not as much time to study since it is a full day.”

While there have been numerous proposals this year to the midyear schedule, the school community should prepare for one certainty: the shortened midyear schedule at Walpole High has become a thing of the past.  When asked about future exams, Mr. Imbusch said he will wait to see how these changes will be implemented.  “However,” said Mr. Imbusch, “It is my intention not to go back to the midyear schedule that we used to have.”