Winter Storms Derail Learning, Testing Remains on Track

Just before midterms, arguably one of the most stressful times of the school year,

Howard County was hit with a series of weather-related delays and closings.

While winter weather put student learning on hold, it did not slow the arrival of high-stakes county and state tests, including midterms.

(photograph by Misbah Farooqi).
(photograph by Misbah Farooqi).

In the two-week stretch before the end-of-first-semester testing, Howard County had one closing and four delays. While students were happy for the time off and additional sleep, many admitted that the winter weather could not have come at a more inconvenient time.

In the few weeks preceding midterms, most teachers are already trying to pack in the last bits of information, tests, and study guides to wrap up the first half of the year. This year, with days set aside for PARCC test preparation and the winter weather, their time was crunched and lessons were cut.

“They needed extra time to go over concepts before tests, but we didn’t have that time,” said junior Rebecca Chamblee.

Chamblee, who takes multiple G/T and AP classes, said the lost time definitely had an impact on workload, comprehension, and grades.

“There was more homework, I had to study more on my own, and it made it harder to understand what I needed to know,” said Chamblee.

This increase in work comes from the pressure put on teachers to cover all of their material in a shortened class.

“We either didn’t do some of the work from the delay days, had to cram it in, or missed all of the work,” said junior Sophie Bertrand.

Accompanying the struggle to learn all of the required material was an increase in pressure.

“I was definitely more stressed than usual,” said Bertrand.

For Ms. Schulman, who teaches multiple levels of Chemistry, one solution would have been to delay the mid-year

testing, since midterms are worth 10 percent of a student’s grade.

“With something that large a percentage of a student’s grade for the year, they should not be expected to learn it on the fly or not at all and still take the test as if nothing happened,” said Ms.


Though midterms are over, the winter weather is not, and students with upcoming PARCC and AP tests are facing the same pressures that the delays caused for midterms.

“The problem has been the snow since the midterm. We’re starting the third quarter, and we’re starting a new unit. We’re behind, especially in AP,” said Ms. Schulman.

As of February 26, the county had used up all five built-in inclement weather days.