Hullabaloo!

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Photo: The Atlantic

Photo: The Atlantic

Photo: The Atlantic

Cole Mier, Opinions Editor

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Ladies and gentlemen, it is now official: Midterms have been cancelled. Instead of in previous years where we worked together as a unified front, sending hundreds of emails and signing numerous petitions, midterms just sort of disappeared off the calendar without any large dispute. What seems puzzling to me is that this decision makes perfect sense. Typically at Maggie Walker, any changes in Maggie Walker’s administrative policies are marred by criticism from outraged students and involved parents. Yet, the reasoning behind this decision has been perfectly sound and the Maggie Walker community has been left pleased. I personally theorize that the administration made this decision with such ease in an effort to avoid a huge hullabaloo from students; instead of receiving a list of demands, the school can make changes on their own terms. However, I do feel as if further changes are needed: and the school’s recent actions to cancel midterms support these changes.

To be more specific, I believe that all midterm examinations ought to be eliminated from the school schedule going forward. Furthermore, I believe all proposed changes to the school calendar as a RESULT of elimination of midterm exams should be rendered irrelevant and unnecessary.

The ease at which midterm exams were cancelled this year hints at how useless they really are. No major school board debate was required, and no student outcry motivated this decision. In fact, only about an inch and a half of snow brought about this change. If midterms can be eradicated off the schedule with minimal deliberation, then they clearly do not matter. Midterms have been cancelled in 2014, 2016, and 2018. Once every two years these tests are not taken, and there has been literally no harm to Maggie Walker- both the institution and its students.

Look towards the success of the class of 2017 as proof. These students did not take midterms in both freshman and junior years. Yet, to quote the Maggie Walker Governor’s School’s website, “The Class of 2017: 188 Graduates. As a class, they performed a total of 37, 081 community service hours… The average Grade Point Average was a 3.98. The average SAT score was 1,419. They are going to 68 different colleges… Thirteen were National Merit Finalists and 57 more received Commendations in the National Merit Program.  Four are receiving National Merit Scholarships. Three were Presidential Scholar candidates.”

Clearly, these students were more than proficient. Their educational success was not at all hindered by absence of midterms; and if midterms do not affect a student’s education, then why should we have them at all?

Furthermore I believe that midterms can only help a student in very specific situations. To be more specific, if a student had a high B, like an 87, he would have to score a 112% on the exam in order to get an A for the semester (an A being an 89.5%). Unless your teacher is incredibly generous, it would literally take an impossible score just to get one and a half points on the semester. For those students fortunate enough to already have an A in a class going into midterms, it would take a ridiculously large score to raise a low A to an A plus. Additionally, these students would not be motivated to learn and review because losing their A would only result from a ridiculously low score. Hence, students trying their hardest to raise their grades during midterms are often destined to fail due to the very nature of the exam’s weight, while high-achieving students are essentially encouraged to slack off.

Eliminating midterms from the school calendar would also have benefits to the administration and the teachers, not just the students. To quote Dr. Lowerre, “There is a point where lost instructional time outweighs the need for a major assessment… By cancelling a mandatory exam, at least 6 days of potential instruction (exams days plus review days) are being put back into the hands of the teachers.” This will be of a tremendous benefit to all teachers, for they will now have additional instructional time.

Let it be known, most importantly, that permanently changing the school’s exam policy should prevent it from having to make a more significant alteration: the proposed change to the school’s calendar. The school desires to cut summer 2018 two weeks short in order to end school in the first week of June and accomplish midterms before break. If midterms were cancelled forever, then all reasons supporting this proposed change to the calendar would no longer exist.

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