(Copyright 2002. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

Making a permanent impression since 1994

February 11, 2002

Burlington students fretting over midterms

By Jacqui Moreau

11:59 p.m. : "Locke said that the sum of the forces equals the mass of the object times the acceleration of the object. No … that's not right. Hobbes said that."

Sound familiar?

Studying for midterms can be tiring and stressful.

Many Burlington students, faculty and parents question the necessity of burdening students with midterm 'hell week,' which annually plagues Lewis S. Mills students.

But others justify universal administration of midterms and say students would be at a disadvantage in college without having had exposure to such testing situations.

Neighboring school systems like Bristol , which eliminated midterms last year, have varying stands on the issue, and even Lewis S. Mills has changed its policy on midterm exemption in recent years.

Midterms and finals are currently mandatory for all Lewis S. Mills students.

Not surprisingly, most Burlington students consider this issue a mid-term crisis.

"I don't think that we should have midterms," said Britney Benedict, a sophomore at the school. "A final represents what you learn throughout the year."

When asked, Benedict said that she would work harder if an 'A' average would exempt her from midterms.

"There is no way that 20 percent of an English grade should be determined by a midterm," said Paul Bentley, a teacher in the English department. "We're about reading and writing on a daily basis. The good student has nothing to gain from midterms, and the poor student has everything to gain."

Even freshmen have recognized the dilemma.

"It's a lot of last-minute studying," said freshman Ashley Coville. "There should only be midterms in some classes to get us ready for college.

“Maybe you could get exempt from all but two subjects," she said.

Meanwhile, in history, a subject centered around retention of factual knowledge, teacher Arthur Symonds said he is "against a midterm or final exemption policy."

He said he might make an exception for second semester seniors.

"Students need the experience of putting together material and synthesizing it for college," Symonds said.

Principal Robin Sorenson said she doesn't support exempting underclassmen from midterms.

She said students need the experience of applying and integrating what they've learned over long periods of time.

But Sorenson said midterms and finals are increasingly application-based as opposed to a strictly multiple-choice format.

In the science department, labs were conducted prior to exam day, and part of the test required analysis of the results. Foreign language midterms incorporated grades from extended listening activities done prior to the two-hour test period.

A final exemption policy applying only to seniors with an 'A' average "can be used in the right place at the right time," Sorenson said.

Such a policy may motivate students to work harder in school as well as help decrease the spread of 'senioritis' -- the springtime slacking disease that is already plaguing many Burlington students.

Click here for a cartoon about "Senioritis"