No More Midterms, Bigger Senior Summers: What’s Not to Love?

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Photo: Hui Lian ('19) - Photography Editor

Photo: Hui Lian ('19) - Photography Editor

Photo: Hui Lian ('19) - Photography Editor

Kate Farmer, News Editor

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The Jabberwock interviewed the big man upstairs, Dr. Lowerre, on new school policies eliminating midterms, moving up exams for graduating seniors, and failed attempts at moving up the calendar to eliminate early AP days.

Q: Is it true that midterms have been cancelled?

“It is true. What we did is eliminate the scheduling of midterms and counting them as percentage of your final grade. That is now gone. There are no midterm days where they are scheduled in place, like block one and three, block two and four, et cetera. [Students] may have missed this anyway, because they are cancelled so often anyway. Teachers were required to give a midterm, and were required to count it as 20% of the semester grade, 10% of the final grade. They are now just regular instructional days, with no blocks for designated exams.”

Q: Will anything happen in place of midterms?

“Teachers can choose to give what they may call a ‘second quarter test’, but it must count as an assessment for the second marking period, not as a semester grade. And to be honest, many teachers aren’t going to do that. Many of them did not like doing that in the first place and saw it as a waste of time, or had other stuff to do. But we do have teachers here who think that giving a midterm is a valid, legitimate way of teaching, and I respect that. So they can still do that… they just need to break it over a few days, and it can’t be weighted 10% as it previously was.

We definitely eliminated “midterms.” But you potentially may see a cumulative semester test.”

Q: Are schedules going to change for seniors with the new exam policies?

“Last year, seniors had to hang around for senior exam days before they graduated. [This year] we have taken the senior exams and are having them given during the senior SOL testing. We’ve got that big block of time anyway, so why not? Now, the seniors’ last day will be significantly earlier, as they are getting that week off. Now their Senior Showcase is their last week, and they get a week off before graduation.”

“The tricky part is this: All the requirements for exam exemption will stay the same. Nothing of that changes. But the one change is that, for seniors and for anyone else taking final exams, if you end up going over your attendance limit for exemption, you will have to take your final exam it during the regular senior time rather than during the senior SOL testing block.”

Q: Should many seniors be affected by/worried about this attendance requirement for exemption?

“If you’re slacking and coming in late… well, you know. But I’d like to refer to this as a motivational tool. After all, it’s a senior privilege; I’m giving them days off, so to seniors, take em’!”

Q: Are these changes permanent?

“I hate to say the word ‘permanent’, because you never really know, but we’ve talked to a lot of people and we’re pretty sure these senior schedule changes are gonna stay if they work, which the faculty thinks definitely can. They all agree: it’s empty SOL days, it’s a big waste of time, so they can get all their testing done, and boom, now you can do some fun stuff.” (As for midterms?): Definitely [the removal of midterms] is gonna stay.”

Q: Last year all the buzz was around the school potentially starting earlier to eliminate early AP days, and therefore letting students out earlier. Why didn’t this happen?

“It’s never gonna work out until the big counties provide transportation to do it. Right now, the only school district that does it is Goochland. But if Henrico, Chesterfield, City of Richmond, Hanover, or even two of them [decide to start earlier]… And they want to. All of these superintendents want to. But the state general assembly denies them.”

“The rule is they have to start after Labor Day, unless you get a waiver. So I said, ok! Let’s apply for the waiver. And: denied.  And I know that all of the superintendents would love to start early. But until they get that change, and since we are totally dependent on them, it isn’t gonna happen.”

Q: Does MLWGS want this shift in schedule to happen?

“We absolutely want it to happen, for a lot of reasons. Number one, from an instructional standpoint, you get two extra weeks, and you remove all the summer APs that everyone hates so school starts when it starts and everyone’s happy. Number two, you’ll get out earlier, you can take vacations at a different time, and trust me, the difference between going to the beach in late May versus early June is several hundred dollars a week.”

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