By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Starting next school year, Bristol high school students will have more time to study for midterm exams now that a new schedule is in place.
During a meeting last Wednesday, the Board of Education unanimously approved the adoption of a half-day schedule for midterm exams, which were administered on full days of school. The board’s Student Achievement Committee unanimously recommended the change, which will take effect during the 2017-2018 school year.
This comes after the High School Council—a body of secondary school and central office administrators—made a unanimous recommendation.
Dr. Pam Brisson, the director of the Office of Teaching and Learning, said the midterm exam schedule is a topic that has been brought up to the board for at least 10 years.
Last December, the issue came up again after Bristol Eastern High School senior Alexandra Allen, who serves as a student representative for the Board of Education, addressed school officials about changing the midterm exam policy.
“Given her passion and statements of purpose, we decided to revisit the topic,” said Brisson.
The new schedule now mirrors that of final exams, which, like midterm exams, count for the same weight in students’ grades and cover material from the same period of time, reflecting a semester’s worth of learning, said Brisson. This was something that Allen brought up when she initially approached the board about changing the midterm exam schedule. She also noted how studying is often the last item on the priority list because of other homework assignments and projects that are due on midterm day.
“Supporters of a full-day schedule in the past have noted that it preserves instructional time in that students attend two classes after taking two exams,” Brisson told the board. “However, as Alexandra and other students as well as administrators and faculty have argued that the remaining class periods during that four-day period are really not effective due to test fatigue. Students would be better served to be dismissed early to further prepare for their next set of exams.”
After the board officially made the changes, Allen was elated, as she knew about the struggles that her friends, classmates and teachers had throughout the four-day midterm exam period.
“I went all four years taking full-day midterms and I knew about the struggles,” said Allen. “That was one of the biggest changes I wanted to make because it was such a big issue.”
Allen also expressed her appreciation for the board’s support for the change.
“They were great in hearing my concerns, and many of the board members also felt the same way I did,” said Allen.