No matter what they are called, nobody is in favor of the tests or projects that conclude each of the year’s four marking periods, as they consume students with stress. However, both formulas have their pros and cons. The question is: which of the two options is the ideal choice? Let’s find out.
Mid-year assessments work a bit oddly compared to college midterms. In college, it’s a test in the middle with everything you have learned so far and then another just like that at the end of the year. Here, it’s two cumulative tests (in marking periods two and four) comprised of two marking periods of material.
Mid-year assessments can help prepare students for college, as they help students adjust to the conventional testing formulas that their future colleges will use. They also provide more of a challenge to students, as they are required to remember and study information that they would have possibly forgotten if it were not for the mid-year assessment. The projects can also be a nice change of pace and give both teachers and students a creative way to display the skills that they have acquired and the information they have learned.
However, mid-year assessments can force students to review a large amount of material quickly, imposing a greater amount of stress on students. The projects also vary in difficulty, depending on the class. Unfortunately, this formula can also cause certain students to struggle over others. For students enrolled in AP classes or difficult electives, mid-year assessments become far harder as students are required to remember more challenging topics or materials. Tanking a cumulative assessment also gives a student little to no chance to recover because it goes towards their overall average and has significant weighting. Finally, the tests are often lengthy, slowing down the grading process and adding to the stress for both teachers and students.
The quarterly approach of the past is a much different style from that of mid-year assessments. With quarterlies, there is a test/project every marking period, which only consists of the information from that marking period. This was the standard formula for many years until the school replaced quarterlies with midterms, in order to help students prepare for college more.
Quarterlies are only an accumulation of what the student learned during the duration of that marking period, meaning that it is a less stressful option for both the students and teachers. The tests are also often shorter and take less time to grade, meaning that students can get their grades back much faster, also reducing stress. This type of testing also allows teachers to have a bit more leverage on how much of a certain topic is on the test. Projects can also take place during any point in the marking period and can offer students a chance to relax if they had a particularly tough marking period. Also, with Quarterlies, students in both AP classes and normal classes can reach a similar level of difficulty, as it is only necessary for them to remember the material they just learned.
Quarterlies can still have a difficulty gap between classes, depending on what level of rigor the course is considered to be. For example, a student taking both AP Chemistry and Chorus will have a hard time on one and a much easier time on the other. But, like any other test, quarterlies will still cause students stress, especially if they are struggling in the class.
Which do I Prefer?
I prefer Quarterlies, as do many. They may happen every marking period instead of every other, but they also reduce stress, as one only needs to remember material from that marking period.