EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 4, 2013

Midterms, finals return to Timberlane

By Alex Lippa

---- — PLAISTOW — After a three-year hiatus, midterms and finals are returning to Timberlane Regional High School.

Superintendent Earl Metzler made the decision to reinstitute the tests this school year.

“I think this speaks to a philosophical belief of rigor,” said Metzler, who is in his second year at Timberlane. “This will be more of a traditional component which is competency based.”

Principal Donald Woodworth dropped midterms and finals prior to the 2010-2011 school year.

At the time, administrators said exam days resulted in students losing instructional days every school year.

Woodworth referred all questions about the policy change yesterday to Metzler.

“This is something I thought we could be aggressive with in year two,” Metzler said. “Speaking with fellow educators and families, they think these are necessary to prepare students for college.”

How and when the exams will be given hasn’t been decided, but Metzler said midterms will be in January, with finals in June.

“We’re trying to figure out how it will work without disrupting the schedule,” he said. “We want to try to make sure the kids are still in school all day.”

Students had mixed reactions.

“I think it will be beneficial,” junior Brian O’Connor said. “I’m more comfortable with one standard test.”

Junior Kayla Dougherty welcomed the change.

“I like that they’re back,” she said. “It will get me ready for college. I’ll know how to handle the combination of stress and work.”

But senior Nichole Currier is worried about how she will test.

“I think we got the worst end of the stick,” she said. “We’ve gone our entire high school careers without this. Now, I feel like we won’t know how to cope or prepare.”

Currier said she was worried about retaining information from earlier in the year.

“I’ve never had to do that before,” she said. “Before I’d throw my notes away, quarter by quarter. But now I’m stressed out. I have a vague idea with how I’ll prepare, but no one has told us yet what it’s going to be like.”

Metzler emphasized exams would be of a traditional nature.

“They’ll be multiple choice or have a writing component to them,” he said. “We will likely create our own tests which are common no matter which teacher you have.”

Metzler said speaking to parents and others at Old Home Day influenced his decision.

One of Pam Walsh’s children has graduated from Timberlane and one is still there. Having experienced exams and the absence of them, she said she is pleased they are coming back.

“Kids need to understand this is how it works in colleges,” she said. “It needs to be done formally with a cumulative assessment.”

While Currier wasn’t pleased exams were returning for her senior year, she did think it was a good idea in the long run.

“In other years, the ending of some classes has just been awkward,” she said. “We cover the last subject we need to and then it just ends. I just wish they were here the last three years, too.”