Final exams are a relic of the past

Replacing final exams will allow more time for instruction. Patricia B. O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education, and Larry A. Bowers, interim superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, convincingly argue that getting rid of final exams is good reform for the high school schedule in Montgomery County.

Here is an excerpt from their letter to the editor of the Washington Post:

This change will restore instructional time that is lost during final exam weeks in January and June. Students will take assessments each marking period during the regular class period. These assessments may take different forms — such as unit tests or in-class projects — and each will be rigorous and consistently graded and count as a significant part of a student’s grade.

Our high school students will take plenty of other tests, including state assessments in algebra 1, biology, English 10 and government. More than two-thirds of them take at least one Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam. And state law requires all 11th-graders to pass a college- and career-readiness exam, which in MCPS is the SAT, ACT or Accuplacer.

Loudoun County Public Schools has also eliminated mid-term and final exams this year. The Washington Post recently  reported that “the decision follows two stormy winters when classes and mid-terms were canceled due to snow.”

In May Loudoun County published an issue brief entitled “Perspectives on Mid-Terms and Final Exams.” It concluded that “most teachers and principals did not believe that teachers had sufficient time to analyze the data from mi-terms and final exams. Most of the respondents did not believe that the assessments are valuable learning experiences for students. Most students and more that 40% of parents believed that mid-terms and final exams lowered students’ grades.”

All school districts should re-evaluate whether it is worthwhile maintaining the old tradition of scheduling final exams.


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