Midterms should have exemptions

Emma-Rose Floyd, News Editor

High schoolers work hard, especially if there is an incentive. When finals come around in June, students are rewarded with exemptions for their grades and attendance. Why are students required to test over first semester material in December, if testing over the entire year isn’t a requirement? It does not make sense to give students a chance to opt-out of the second half of the material and not the other. If students have good grades and attendance the first semester, they should be rewarded with midterm exemptions.

Students tend to work harder if they know that they will be rewarded, be it a homework pass, bonus points on an assignment, or, in some cases, food. Giving students, especially over-worked, stressed out teens, a chance to by-pass a test in a class they have worked their tail off for the entire semester, is a great way to keep students grades -and spirits- up during the holiday season. Exempting a test from a class you have worked very hard in all semester could make students feel better. This might allow them to enjoy their winter break, instead of worrying about their final grade plummeting because of a test that is worth 7 percent of their grade. This one grade could affect how they do in the class for the semester, and in some cases, determine if they pass or fail. If a student is on the brink of failing, the midterm could be the moment of truth for their grade.

Midterms should not account for more than other tests throughout the semester. There are rules set in place so that one test grade does not fail someone, so why does this not apply to midterms and finals?

Schools across the country are switching to more project-based assessments of student’s knowledge, which ensures a reasonable grade for the student’s progress throughout the semester and also significantly reduces stress. If a student is given a week to finish a project incorporating information learned over the semester, it gives the student time to put their knowledge to use and is a more beneficial way of helping them recall information swiftly. This is preferred, rather than giving a paper review with words that are meaningless to the student that they will then memorize for an hour and a half and immediately forget after the test is over. If the student is expected to know it again in May for spring exams, then perhaps teachers should give them an activity that will help them later.

In providing activities instead of questions on a review, students will be more prepared for life, rather than just one test that will be quickly forgotten. To ensure that students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, students who do not have good enough grades to exempt should be expected to create a project and students who are eligible to exempt from the project should be able to do so, as a reward for succeeding in the class.
Administrators should consider a more project-based assignment for midterms, and should consider allowing exemptions for the fall semester as well as the spring. The stress level of many students would be much obliged.