Summative assessments are no better than midterms


Curstine Guevarra

Many PV students have completed lengthy review packets to prepare for their cumulative exams.

Brianna Ruback, Associate Editor in Chief

No midterms, no problems.

Or so we thought.

For the first time, Pascack Valley High School did not administer midterm exams this January and will not be giving final exams in the spring.

However, this does not mean that students will not be taking lengthy assessments that do, in fact, carry some weight. Within the past month, many teachers gave out “cumulative” or “summative” assessments in lieu of the typical midterm.

While in theory, not having a stress-encompassed, study-filled “midterm week” seems like a sound idea, I do not see how issuing summative exams is a better alternative.

After talking to numerous students, I gathered that many were notified of the date of their summative exam with less than two weeks before their actual test. This was less time than in past years, as the midterm exam schedule was released over one month before the testing week commenced.

PV senior, Hannah Burke, explained, “Giving us ‘summatives’ without the week of midterms just gives us less time to study.”

Instead of going home to de-stress after taking a long, mentally draining test, students were subjected to go about their usual day at school and complete any assignments. While the summative exams were slightly shorter in length than the standard midterm, due to the reduced amount of time, taking a substantial test and then going to class is quite fatiguing because students are robbed of the downtime that they were once entitled to.

“I feel as though the summative assessments create more stress because during ‘midterm week,’ we had more time to review and study, and we did not have extra classwork. But with summative assessments, not all classes are giving them out, so there is a lot more work on top of it,” PV senior Kyle Chiger said.

This was the case for many students. In the past, teachers would not assign any homework during midterm week so that students had ample time to prepare for their exams. However, since not all teachers chose to give summative or cumulative exams, they allotted the amount of homework that they typically would without midterms.

To streamline the system, I think it would be beneficial to have a designated week for summative exams. Some students had their tests before winter vacation, while others took theirs upon returning from break, while I had mine two weeks ago. If there were a few days during a specific week in the school year for “summatives,” it would lessen the workload for students, making studying and test-taking more manageable.

Tests are not going to be completely removed any time soon and neither is stress. I only hope that a happy medium will be reached that will not only alleviate the anxiety that comes along with test-taking, but also prepare students for the future.

(Brianna Ruback’s opinions are not necessarily those of The Smoke Signal or its staff. The Smoke Signal welcomes dissenting opinions via Op Eds or Letters to the Editor.)