Big tests, long day: New midterm schedule at GBHS

After about four hours spent frantically bubbling in Scantrons and scribbling five-paragraph essays, Granite Bay High School students streamed out of classrooms just after noon and eagerly raced home. Depending on how far they were in their journey to conquer midterms, the students either had one more lengthy afternoon of studying for midterms or they had a couple of extra hours to relax after a stressful week.

In years past, Granite Bay High School students got out of school at 12:25 p.m. on midterm testing days. In the 2022-2023 school year, midterm days will end at the regular dismissal time of 3:20 p.m.

Previously, both the midterm and finals schedules at GBHS were minimum days consisting of two 125-minute periods separated by a 23-minute nutrition break. This year, students will have to attend all four periods on midterm days. The first day of testing will include two consecutive 125-minute testing periods, lunch and then two 56-minute periods. On the other hand, the second day of testing will have two 56-minute periods, one 125-minute testing period, lunch and then the other 125-minute testing period. 

“I really would hate for a schedule change like this to affect students’ performance in their grades,” math teacher Lisa Kunst said.

GBHS is required to have roughly 65,000 instructional minutes and 180 school days for every school year. In a regular five-day school week that includes collaboration Wednesdays, the school gets 1,840 instructional minutes a week, per numbers provided by principal Gregory Sloan in an email. The GBHS calendar includes occasional four-day weeks or weeks with a minimum day, which yield fewer instructional minutes. 

“The way we functioned previously was to give up late start Wednesdays 4 to 5 times a year. This caused confusion and students arrived late on those days,” Sloan said in an email. “It also reduced the amount of time teachers had to meet together.”

By having four midterm days following the full-length schedule, GBHS gains back instructional minutes. However, having a full-length day when students have midterms, rather than a minimum day, reduces the amount of free hours available after school compared to the previous midterm schedule.

“With the late (8:30 a.m.) start now, students have less time after school to be working on midterms with sports and jobs and whatnot. So I feel like the afternoon time has already been so shrunk for students that now without the minimum day, that could potentially be a big factor (in how well students perform),” Kunst said.

On the first day of midterms, students will have their testing periods separated by a six-minute passing period, as opposed to the 23-minute nutrition break that the finals schedule and previous midterm schedule have included. The second day of midterms will have lunch in between the testing periods. On both days, lunch will occur at the same time for all students.

“I don’t think (the midterm schedule change will affect my performance) because we’ve already had so many schedule changes,” Alexa Boyer, senior, said. “I think I’ve already kind of adjusted to whatever changes they’ve made, but I don’t know. I’m going to see what happens.”

The finals schedule for GBHS will remain largely the same as other school years with the only difference being that students are released slightly later due to the 8:30 a.m. start time and the addition of a half-hour lunch period at the end of the day after tests have been completed.

“In the long run, the timing of when midterms occur hasn’t changed. The length of those classes hasn’t changed, and the amount of midterms on the same day hasn’t changed,” Sloan said in an email. “Previously there was a 20-minute break in between, and that part is now shorter. We’ll see how it goes and adjust if necessary.”