HHS Discontinues Midterms After Weeks of Rumors


by Katie Buelt.

Freshman Sarah Davenport (left), sophomores Jane Buelt (front right), and Emily Shoenfelt study in the Commons.

Katie Buelt, Features Editor

Students and teachers, past and present, throughout HHS have had a long and complicated relationship with midterms. For teachers, their winter schedules revolve around test preparation and review; meanwhile, students study vigorously, often far in advance. Overall, no matter one’s position, the school year’s first semester revolves around these two-hour exams.

Now, however, HHS is entering unmarked territory– on Oct. 24, the Board of Education officially notified parents and students that midterm exams will be discontinued. Rumors of this possibility have been circulating since it was referenced at the Sept. 16 Board of Education meeting, but these speculations have at last been confirmed. An email from Principal Karen Bingert detailed the reasons for the change, namely the large number of normal instructional days that are lost due to the exams and their required preparation. Stress also played a large factor in this decision; Bingert writes that it has become increasingly common for students to receive doctor’s notes due to anxiety, thereby allowing them more time or limiting the number of exams they take in a day. Hillsborough is just one of many local schools to recently make this call; Somerville, Manville, Montgomery, and Ridge have all discontinued finals, while Watchung went a step further, canceling both midterms and finals.

How, specifically, will this change impact the student body? Bingert explains that the most notable difference involves the change in weight of marking period and final exam grades. For full-year courses, each marking period will compile 22.5% of one’s grade, and all finals, regardless of course length, are worth 10%. Semester courses follow a similar pattern, with each marking period being worth 45%. The decision to make final exams cumulative lies with each respective department. As of seniors, no change has been made to the qualification requirements for final exam exemption, and it is specifically stated that the lack of midterms will not be noteworthy to colleges.

Despite the overall optimistic message of the letter, a handful of potential disadvantages are still listed. Among these is the fact that finals for first semester courses, which must be taken at the end of second marking period, will have no built-in time to complete their exams.

While some have chosen to welcome this decision, others are still in opposition, viewing it as unhelpful in the long-term. “It isn’t helpful,” Sophomore Jordan Ludwig said. “If teachers choose to give us huge, cumulative finals at the end of the year, it will be so stressful.”

Regardless of opinion, this decision is sure to have ripple effects, and administrators are still attempting to work out the details of the new process. Until then, Bingert has said that students are welcome to contact their teachers and counselors with any questions. “It will be an adjustment–about that there is no question,” Bingert wrote. “But it is a worthwhile adjustment which will benefit our students.”