How and Why Flint Hill Decided to Eliminate Midterms

By Abi Baker

Over the past few years, the Flint Hill administration has been discussing removing midterms from the school program. After voting last year, the Curriculum Committee recommended that Mr. Thomas change the exam structure. 


This vote came after much deliberation between Division Directors and feedback from faculty and students. This transition comes at a perfect time for students, especially with the added stress of the virus. 


Senior Sasha Sheikh believes, “it was a really smart decision on the administration’s part to not have midterms this year”. As she applies to college, “midterms were already stressful in a normal year, so this year with all that is unknown and especially seniors who have college applications I am happy that I don’t have to add midterms to my to-do list.”


In the future, as long as this decision proves to be positive, perhaps no midterms will be the new normal at Flint Hill. Notably, impacts on students’ mental health can be severe when pressured to finish homework and study for other assessments while simultaneously preparing for an exam. 


Junior Shea Gillespie notes, “there’s nothing more frustrating than doing well in a class but not on the midterm, and having it completely change your semester grade.”


When making this change, several factors played a significant role. One is the gift of time. Prior to this year, teachers had to stop teaching new material a week in advance of the exam to allow time for review. Another factor was the realization that there are many other ways to test the students’ knowledge of class material. 


Gillespie outlines her frustrations by saying, “midterms are an unfair way to determine a student’s grade, especially with those who know the material but have trouble taking standardized tests.”


This change seems to be necessary for teachers as well. Zita Gray teaches Chemistry and Physics with students in all grade levels, and she expresses her gratitude for the extra time. “We don’t have that much time to cover new materials when we come back from Thanksgiving break leading into the midterm week. Plus we have to consider at least two class periods for review.” Furthermore, she is mindful of students “I want students to enjoy the holidays and not worry about their midterm scores.”


While there have been alterations to midterms, Emily Sanderson, Director of Studies, expresses the importance of keeping the final exam. She describes that “The Committee and departments feel that learning to prepare for exams and learning how to take exams both continue to be valuable to Flint Hill students.”