New school year brings in new testing

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Say goodbye to semester exams because the new quarterly exams are here to stay. No longer will students have to endure a two-hour exam based on the culmination of the past couple months of their school experience. Now quarterly assessments, which are conducted at the end of every quarter, specifically test a student’s knowledge of the past nine weeks and eliminate the stress of final exam week.
“I would prefer to have a finals period and have the students have the experience of having a final and the days that lead up to taking a final,” English teacher Michelle Hanson said.
As part of the new grading system, which calculates semester grades based on an average of the previous two quarter grades, quarterly assessments will make up 10 percent of a student’s quarter grade. However, the assessment will only be implemented in classes that previously had a county exam: English, math, science, social studies, technology and world languages. In an AP class, for example, where there were no county assessments to begin with, there will be no quarterly assessments added onto the course this year. The assessment also varies by course and is on par with the material being taught in each class’s respective curriculum.
The quarterly assessment was created as a way to increase instructional time in the classroom by removing time taken for final exam preparation, as well as a method to improve the quality of education being provided to the students. Data provided at the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) website concludes the replacement of final exams with quarterly assessments returns “more than two weeks” of instructional time that would otherwise have been used for final exam preparation.

Unlike final exams, students and teachers can easily see the results of the exam without having to go through the hassle of submitting forms. With this aspect of the assessments, students can better understand what they don’t know and where they went wrong, creating room for improvement in the class. Teachers can also utilize the quick feedback from the quarterly assessment to learn what topics the class needs improvement on, and by implementing what they learn into the classroom soon after.
Some are beginning to warm up to the idea of exams specialized for the students.
“I like the idea of exams that have the student’s improvement in mind,” freshman Alexa Kantor said, in regards to the quarterly assessments.
But, the quarterly exams are not without controversy. Skeptics believe the removal of final exams does not prepare students for college because in college students are expected to take final exams in their classes.
“School is supposed to prepare us for college and by getting rid of final exams they aren’t doing what they should be doing to help us students,” junior Thomas Lin said.
Teachers are not all on board either. “I would prefer to have a finals period and have the students have the experience of having a final and the days that lead up to taking a final,” English teacher Michelle Hanson said. MCPS believes the quarterly assessments are on par with current testing practices in college that apply “cumulative learning through multiple measures such as tests, papers, research, and projects.”
MCPS ensures that the new assessments will be in accordance to state and national testing standards and will provide sufficient college standardized testing preparation.

 

Aaron Levine

Back Page Editor