Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Ahhhh, mid-terms.  The time of year where we ask students to put in context everything that we have talked about for half a year in a 75-minute span.

As a teacher, I have recently started to struggle with the value of mid-terms as a practical exercise.  There is the idea that we need to prepare students for the high stakes exams that are to come, whether they are MCAS, PSATs, SATs, or whatever college exams they might take.  But if we are preparing them for something else, should we be assessing what is essentially practice (particularly freshmen who have yet to take such an exam)?  Is it right that 10% (in my case) of their final average for the year is based on one day's testing? 

There is also the thought that students should have to demonstrate to us what they have learned over the course of the first half of the year.  Does this make mid-terms just a knowledge dump then, and not allow them to actually use the material they have learned in any kind of meaningful way?  What are we telling our students about what we have done for the first half of the year?  That they can now forget about and move on to what comes next?  Some teachers, at the school I teach at and beyond, have great end of term/end of year projects that allow students to truly demonstrate what they know.  Is that the directions that we should go in?

This is not to say that I am opposed to mid-terms or what they represent, just that maybe there is a different and, perhaps, more meaningful way for our students to demonstrate what they have learned.

No comments: