Relieving the stress


Jenna Engel, Staff Writer

The times of the year that most students dread are the infamous midterm and final seasons. Well, for all of the students out there, this time of dread and despair, with a touch of sleep deprivation, is finally over. Midterms and finals have now been revoked of their titles and changed to quarterly exams.

In the second half of the 2015-16 school year, Principal William Deal and the Principal Advisory Council, better known as PAC, proposed the idea for this change. All of these changes came about when the new graduation requirements were in the spotlight. The main goal through changing these policies is flexibility.

“It was a student-born idea where they were saying, ‘Hey, we’d like some different ways for this to work,’ and then it was up to me to figure out some of the mechanics as to how that could actually happen,” Deal said.

Deal stated that midterms and final exams had not really begun to scratch the surface on what that specific class was about. The problem was simple: there was too much pressure on a mere two tests that made up 20 percent of a student’s final grade for the year.

These tests were also not very accurate at gauging the students’ knowledge. For instance, if a student had high performances during a regular set of nine weeks, but had low performances on midterms and finals, or vice versa, this reflected on the accuracy of the testing. So, some kind of change needed to happen.

“The assessment could be a test, a project, a paper or some other kind of thing. The bin will be open all year for the teachers to put these assessments in there,” guidance counselor Chris Bennett said.

This means that the new “exams” don’t even necessarily have to be exams. This also takes away some of the stress that students have to face since they don’t have to prepare for four tests in one day.

In MMS, the weights of each quarter have been accommodated to account for this new way of grading. Instead of midterms and finals making up 20 percent of a student’s overall grade, the new exams will only count for a combined 10 percent. The set quarters, on the other hand, have been changed to 22.5 percent of a student’s final grade versus the previous 20 percent.

“As we look at the grading aspect of this, we put so much weight on midterm and final exams. We have so much invested in those two grades, when that’s really a small picture of the overall class,” Deal said.

The question for administration then becomes, how can we alleviate that stress for the students?

A couple hiccups are expected for this new plan because it’s new to the staff, students and teachers. Deal states how there is some frustration within the teaching staff, which is understandable, considering all of the administration changes in light of the recent events regarding the search for a new assistant principal.

“We want to make sure that we’re not making change just for change sake, so we want to keep it in place long enough that there’s some stability,” Deal said.

As of now, this is just a baseline for the administration and teaching staff to know where to start, and all of the details will fall into place after the school finds more regularity with administrative changes.