KO decides not to hold traditional exams for midterms


In November, Director of Academic Planning Carolyn McKee, the Department Chairs, and Head of the Upper School  Dan Gleason came together and decided that the school will not have traditional midterms this year. However, teachers may still give assessments during the week of December 14. 

The decision to not have midterms this school year was in order to have more class time. “The decision was made because of the late start and a fewer number of class meetings,” Ms. McKee said. “The department chairs, Dr. Gleason, and I decided that we didn’t want to give up the class time for exams. Instead of midterms, we decided to keep classes in session with the opportunity for people to give tests as they normally would.” 

Since the start of the school year was pushed back by one week, a lot of class time was lost. Ms. McKee thinks that teachers would rather have class time than exams. “I think it’s clear to me that teachers would rather have class time over exams because of the fewer number of times classes can meet,” she said.

Many teachers were in favor of the decision to not have midterms in order to accommodate the decreased amount of class time. “I feel that when we try to do exams, we take away a lot of class time both in preparation, actually having the exam, and then reviewing the exam,”  history teacher Scott Dunbar said. “So on a cost-benefit basis, I’m not sure the benefit of having the exam is worth the cost.”

Ms. McKee instead made the decision to have designated testing days; Monday and Tuesday will be reserved for math and language assessments, while Wednesday and Thursday will be reserved for science and history assessments. “We decided to have testing days for each subject,” Ms. McKee said, “so that no student would have more than one test in a day.” 

However, Ms. McKee also believes that not having midterms may make finals more challenging for some students, particularly those who have never taken an exam before.  “When we did away with midterms last time, kids only took one exam a year, and that was really hard for them,” she said. 

She hopes that this year’s testing week will not cause as much worry as a traditional midterms week. “I think there won’t be as much worry or anxiety because they won’t be as impactful on the grade,” Ms. McKee said.

Math Department Chair Alex Hoerman thinks that although students might have a busy week, the workload will be spread out. “I think within that week it might be a busy week,” Mr. Hoerman said. “I think having it spread out being certain subjects on different days, it would hopefully spread out the workload for that week.

Many students and teachers agree with Ms. McKee on this issue. They think that the testing schedule will not be too overwhelming, as students will only be taking a maximum of one test per day on that week. “I think it’s pretty manageable,” sophomore Manu Narasimhan said. Junior David Shi said he agreed. “I think that most people will be able to handle the testing schedule well,” he said.