The Coming and Going of Midterm Exams


This school year the Fairfield Public Schools Board of Education decided to reinstitute midterm exams at the high school level. 

This choice came as a shock to many students and teachers, because it had been believed that midterms were not a part of the district’s philosophy. 

Many Fairfield Ludlowe students have never taken a midterm, because the decision to remove them was made their freshman year. So why were midterms brought back this year? 

Before understanding the reasons for their return, it is important to know why they had been removed initially. 

When asked why midterms had been eliminated, Fairfield Ludlowe Principal Greg Hatzis provided many reasons behind the choice that impacted both students and teachers. The first being that midterms cause “a tremendous amount of stress.” The stress of midterms looming on the horizon has been palpable at FLHS in recent weeks. 

Additionally, with the block schedule and 85 minute periods of instructional time, Hatzis noted that “teachers could still give large assessments” without the need of a two hour midterm block. 

With teachers in mind, Hatzis mentioned the “huge grading burden” and the pressure to “stall or cram info in to meet the midterm date” that contributes largely to teachers’ stress. 

With formal midterm exams out of the way, teachers are still able to give large exams to review course material “when it made sense and was appropriate to do so,” as Hatzis put it. 

FLHS Math Teacher, Katherine Smith, shared a similar sentiment when asked her feeling about the return of midterms. Smith said, “that the timing feels arbitrary and we could still assess students on large parts of the curriculum when we are prepared to do so in an 85 minute class.” 

Much of the reasoning behind the reinstitution of midterms is also centered around large exams occurring when the teacher sees fit. 

When asked why midterms were making a return this year, Hatizis said, “teachers were still giving huge tests but without the break in the calendar. Students had homework, etc. in other classes. Some students felt the big tests were just spread out over a month, which was worse than in just four days.” He also noted that some students liked the spread out exams. 

A similar argument is that semester classes are forced to administer finals in an 85 minute block rather than a two hour block. 

Scheduling was not the only reason behind the return of midterms. Hatzis stated that they, “require departments to create common assessments which they can use to monitor student progress and be consistent across sections.”

Despite the many reasons, students and teachers still have very strong opinions about midterms taking place this year. 

With the Omicron variant of COVID keeping many students and teachers out of school for extended periods of time, learning seems to have been put on hold for many. 

Clare Fusco, a senior at FLHS, shared that, “After recently having COVID I feel like I missed valuable material and review for some of my exams, adding to the stress I had already been feeling.” 

FLHS senior Skylar Slavin says she feels, “midterms place an undue burden of stress on students, especially seniors who have not taken this kind of exam in high school.”