Missing Midyears!


An updated Hingham Public Schools Calendar after removing the midyear testing days of 1/27 and 1/28, and replacing the make-up exam day (1/31) with an early release.

Delaney Coppola, Contributing Writer

After much debate, a final decision from the School Committee regarding the 2022 midyear exams was released to Hingham High School families on January 14th. And the verdict? Cancelled! Many students rejoiced at this relieving message which removed the three days of testing periods in which core subject teachers usually administer cumulative tests covering the first half of the year’s material. Senior Ellie Boles voices the opinion of many stating, “The cancellation of midyears took a large portion of stress off my plate.” Other students, however, mourned the loss of the half days and make-up day off of school (for most students) which accompany the exam period schedule. The two half days will return to full-length, while the make-up day will change to a half day on Monday, January 31. 

With a recent surge of COVID-19 cases, many students have missed class material and review due to health reasons. An email sent out by Principal Swanson reveals the concern over these absences as a main factor in deciding to cancel the exams explaining that the return to a normal school schedule during these testing days “will restore lost instructional time and enable students to catch up in a more reasonable manner.” Senior Deirdre O’Donnell agrees with this consideration commenting, “Although midyears are helpful, allowing me to review on what I have learned so far and practice test-taking skills, unfortunately with the rising COVID cases, I was relieved they were cancelled. An abundance of absences for understandable safety reasons has made classroom learning more difficult and the midyears added an additional layer of stress.” O’Donnell brings up another factor which heavily weighed into the decision and debate over midyear exams: their contribution to the stress level of students. In an already extremely tense time, the added pressure of reviewing two terms worth of material and completing a lengthy test for an important grade proves a scary feat, not to mention the test anxiety that many students face. The School Committee and administration’s consideration of these stressors further contributed to the eventual cancellation. 

Although the official midyear testing days and the institution of the exam grades as a separate element in final grade calculation have been removed with the district’s decision, many students report that their teachers have instead opted to assign cumulative, midyear equivalent tests to be completed during normal class periods over the next few weeks as a replacement for the lost tests. Senior Cara Chiappinelli reacts, “While cancelling mid years was very helpful to some, I still have cumulative tests in almost all my classes, so there is little difference in my schedule.” This sentiment spans across grades as junior Whitley Thompson chimes in with a similar response: “I guess it’s good that I still have the opportunity to do midyear style review test so I can be prepared for future midyear preparations and learn good study tactics while not having as much pressure since it’s only a test grade instead of a midyear grade. However, I was a little disappointed that despite the cancellation of midyear tests I still feel like I’m doing all the studying that I would be doing for midyears anyways.” These students bring up a valid point in that if these cumulative tests are just being administered during class periods instead, the same stress and time-consuming review exists despite the cancellation. Thompson, however, adds a new facet to the discussion, revealing that midyears may prove helpful in gaining exposure to higher pressure tests and building study habits, especially since this is the second year that traditional exams have not been held. 

Overall, many HHS students appear relieved to not have midyear exams this winter, and grateful for the lessened stress burden. Although a second year without traditional testing schedules disrupts the slow return to “normal” (or at least the new normal), this attempt to solve the absences issue and aid students’ social-emotional health proves a warranted decision for the 2022 midyears.