Academic Office Ponders Mid-Term Changes

The return of mid-terms for the 2022-23 school year may involve a new schedule

Jessica Choe, Editor

Although mid-term exams are currently on pause at the Academy, there are voices questioning whether the Academy should reintroduce them either in the traditional or a revamped format. 

Following March of 2020, the Academy went entirely online for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year. In this online format, the teachers were unable to offer end-of-the-year exams in a fair, supervised manner, further leading to an executive decision from the academic office to replace exams with projects determined by each teacher’s discretion. The 20-21 academic year followed suit when the Academy went hybrid, with a significant percentage of the student body and faculty Zooming into classes from different time zones. 

The Academy shifted back to a fully in-person institution for the 21-22 academic year—but without reviving the exams. Each year’s calendar is planned in advance, such as arranging when quarters and semesters begin and end or securing the graduation date. Last year, when the academic office sat down to discuss this year’s exam schedule, it simply did not have enough information to determine whether holding exams would be feasible. The vaccines were just approved and put into circulation, and the possibility still loomed of school turning online at any point. There were so many unknown variables that the office landed on the same decision it did for last spring: no mid-term exams. 

Yet, the academic office is now looking to bring exams back in a rather revamped format starting with the 22-23 academic year. The exam schedule previously offered at the Academy granted teachers only a limited degree of freedom. “We didn’t give [teachers] much flexibility other than giving a giant test,” Mr. Gary Satow, the Associate Academic Dean, told The Governor in an interview. He continued, “…which some teachers didn’t necessarily agree philosophically or fit what they were hoping to do with their class.”

According to Mr. Satow, one idea on the table would be for each block, A through F, to be given one three-hour block during the week to use however they want. This new exam format will give increased flexibility to teachers on how to utilize their dedicated blocks. 

“The teacher can do whatever they want to do to assess their student,” Mr. Satow commented. “Meaning Mr. Satow’s AP Government class could give a practice test,” Mr. Satow explained, “but Mr. Nelson’s world history class might do a presentation instead, or Mr. Delay’s civics class wants to do a debate.”

Apart from his work as the Associate Academic Dean, Mr. Satow also teaches AP US Government. As an AP teacher, he hopes to give his students a chance to feel the pacing of the comprehensive AP exam in the traditional exam setting. “Before they sit for the actual test in May, I want my kids to do something similar to what they are going to do at least once. I think that practice is very important,” he remarked. 

Nonetheless, Mr. Satow and the academic office are now reconsidering the value of such traditional, comprehensive exams. Describing them as “big Harry Potter-style exams with 400 kids in the field house with ninth-graders sitting with seniors whom they have never seen before.” Mr. Satow observed, “I think that is somehow archaic.” He hopes the modified exam schedule would be able to address such concerns.

Whether the exam will continue to stay in this proposed format, the academic office is unsure. “We might like it, or scrap it and think of something else,” Mr. Satow responded. 

Although student reaction to this new format has yet to be determined, there is sure to be some uproar as many students appreciate the ability to focus on one subject at a time with the old structure.