FHS Students Protest Midterm Week Changes to BOE

Board of Education hears concerns about pending changes to midterms.

Farmingdale High School students stood before the Board of Education Wednesday night at Howitt Middle School to protest this year's changes to midterm week.

The midterms, which are usually taken over the course of a week while classes were not in session, are now being given during class periods.

Superintendent John Lorentz said the changes were put into effect in order to add additional instruction days, specifically to continue Advanced Placement curriculum.

High School Senior and AP student Alexander Melton was greeted with a standing ovation from his peers after criticizing the midterm week changes.

"One hour I'm going about thinking about the birdies and the fishes to the people and the politics and the logarithms and derivatives. Now imagine those mind-shifts I have to through every day during a full day of school but now I have midterms in between," said Melton, who said some students would be forced to take three midterms in one day on top of a nine period course load.

"This is adding a lot of unnecessary stress that we have never had before…So now I'm going to have to go to a full day of school, have to take a midterm that is 10 percent of my grade. That's a lot…I'm expected to perform at my peak and without a full midterm week this year, it is going to be a lot harder to do that," said Melton. 

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Students also discussed the disappearance of senior exemption; a privilege in which seniors are exempt from taking final exams if they're in good standing with their courses which students said was taken away during the first quarter of the school year.

"Why did we implement these changes this year? Why didn't we implement them last year or the year before because I've heard the expression, why fix something that's not broke?" said senior Chris Olsen. 

Many members of the board were impressed with the students arguments.

"I have to say, we all agree, they made excellent valid points," said BOE Trustee, Kathy Lively.

"How proud we are to see the best of the best," said BOE Trustee, Tina Diamond.

Assistant Superindent Joan Ripley said the midterm week change was not a punishment, but merely an effort to benefit all students. 

"We don't want to penalize the students that take on the most challenges but at the same time we don't want to stop school for students who are not taking on the challenges. That's where we have to weigh what benefits all of the [students] and it's difficult because one decision doesn't always fit everybody," said Ripley.

Superintendent John Lorentz said this plan has been in motion for a number of years and the board will analyze this year's results before next year's midterm week.

"You've made some valid points and you guys are the exceptional students that we have at Farmingdale High School….We've made decisions that we think will put us on the road to even higher achievement," Lorentz said.

BOE President Shari Bardash-Eivers said she believes the ultimate decision rests with the high school itself and not the board.

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Stina December 07, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Happy to see that the kids had a voice. Good luck on the decision.
George Melton December 07, 2012 at 01:05 PM
"We've made decisions that we think will put us on the road to even higher achievement," Lorentz said. If the Best of the Best are having a difficult time how does this benefit the other students. This does not make any sense to me. I my opnion, these decisions usally have to do with Money, but I am told this is not true. Thank God its his last year.
John Rennhack December 07, 2012 at 02:55 PM
So if I understand this correctly, an AP Honors student is shocked and appalled that he has to take a mid-term on the same day he has other classes and not during a special week? He and his fellow seniors are in for quiet a surprise when they get to college. I don't remember ever having a special week just to take tests spaced out so as not to clutter my day. And a "special privilege" is being taken away? Now they have a lesson in the difference between a "privilege" and a "right." The real world is only months away. Are the "best of the best" prepared? Can they tell their boss that they can only accomplish one task at a time?
Yankee Man December 07, 2012 at 08:55 PM
I applaud the kids for getting involved, and voicing their opinions in the proper format. The fact that this young man feels stressed is laughable. First of all there are young men his age serving our country in the armed forces, far form home, in harms way. There can feel stress. They are kids on Long Island whose homes were wiped away by the storm. They must deal with the daily struggles of teenage life and test taking, while living out of their homes. They may feel stress. There are kids who know that their parents are doing the best they can, but the financial reality makes community college the only possibilty, and they have to pay for it.. They can feel stress. So please stop talking about some extra test as if it is some life test of your manhood. I doubt that 50 years from now, while looking back on the many hardships that life threw at you, you will look at taking a test as one of your proudest moments.
esther Kramer December 07, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Wow! The comment from the Soup Nazi is sorely lacking in empathy. These children are reacting to the very real stress they are feeling due to new state and district requirements. Belittling their feelings is immature. They never compared their stress to those who are less fortunate or in danger. Only a fool would compare such experiences or a grumpy, judgmental adult in this case. Also, to accuse these students of being whiny and not being able to budget their time is just ignorant. These are not regular tests and account for a disproportionate share of their grade. And I seem to recall midterms and finals in college and everybody studying for them and stressing out. There were no other classes at the time those exams were given. The kids were voicing their legitimate concerns in an appropriate forum to try to enact change. Shame on those we belittle them for that.
EdMang December 07, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Yes there is "mid-term" and "finals" week in college but other tests and classes don't stop. You can have 2-3 mid-terms or finals in one day. In some classes, regular tests can be given a disproportionate share of the final grade. If they wanted to enact change, they could fight against the high-stakes testing that the State requires for graduation. Fight against the for-profit college exam companies. Demand a well-rounded education with more than just academics as the focal-point.
Helen December 08, 2012 at 01:19 AM
See both sides of the argument here, but really, what is with the sudden shift with Lorenz adding additional instructional days this year? We lost the winter break, which will be a joke of a week - how many students and teachers do you really think will show? So, the kids could end with half days of watching movies or sitting in an auditorium? All so the day counts, not additional instruction....and now we add in full days in lieu of midterm week. What's next? Finals during the last week of school? And can someone please find the answer to what happens if we we don't use our snow days? Since we pad the calendar every year and in the last 13 years have only used several; that would leave a lot in the bank (hypothetically speaking) Why wouldn't we have an earlier last day of school IF the SNOW days are not used?
Yankee Man December 08, 2012 at 02:27 AM
First of all Helen.... I expect that parents will act like parents and send their kids to class when the LAW REQUIRES IT!! The storm was October 29.. The added days are in Feb 4 months later. Not exactly last minute change of plans. The test is three months away...plan accordingly!!! Ester....getthe kids ready for the "unfair", "unplanned" and "unpopular",,,thats called life
Donna December 08, 2012 at 05:23 AM
As a parent I am excited that the school district is seeing the need for additional class days. the United States is starting to lag behind other countries in education. The countries far ahead of us spend much more time with instructional hours/days. Many years ago there was no Feruary break. I recall it started to conserve energy/fuel. Then the last week is even a waste to send them. They do nothing anyway. They go in for the day just to be there enough hours just to get there funding from the state. What a sham. . Then we start giving midterms and finals during special weeks. If these kids had more instructional time they would be better prepared for any test they take be it state or finals.
Helen December 10, 2012 at 12:55 AM
@SN - I too hope that parents will act like responsible parents and send their children - however; I would hold off your "sending kids to class" statement until after the said added days - they will be sent to school - will these days be "instructional" ? TBD. As for the YELLING that your post screams - take a deep breath. Why so uptight and tense? Yes, there are people who are stressed out over the cancelled school break as they made plans for vacations - some of which I am sure there will be no refund for and that, as it is "life", stinks. As for the tests - it's an opinion - there really isn't anything to plan for.....it is what it is. Relax.
Helen December 10, 2012 at 12:57 AM
@Donna - I agree that we lag behind - way behind - that's a whole other discussion - as to whether this retracted week will help - we all have yet to see. As for the last week(s) of school - couldn't agree more. Why don't we all start pushing class instruction for classes that do not include pushing for the mandatory state tests?????


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