Montgomery County

Montgomery County to Phase Out High School Final Exams

Amid national criticism of student testing, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted Tuesday to tentatively approve a proposal to phase out end-of-semester exams for high school students.

Board members voted to replace two-hour-long exams at the end of each semester with shorter assessments like unit test and projects. 

Board President Patricia O'Neill said students are already assessed in many ways. 

"Currently, 50 percent of our high school students take AP [Advanced Placement] or IB [International Baccalaureate] assessments, which are nationally normed, high-stakes, very difficult assessments," she said. "They're already demonstrating in a variety of ways how they master knowledge."

The new testing system will go into effect in the 2016-2017 school year. Its success will be monitored, and parents will be asked for their input. 

Vincent Mickens, the parent of a student at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, said he liked the plan. 

"I think the kids will learn more and learn better," he said. "I think it's a very good idea."

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Teacher Noah Grosfeld-Katz said he also likes the plan.

"It will free up a lot of time for us to do more instructional activities, more hands-on activities. And actually better enable us to assess student data and understand what we can do better to help them," he said.

Final exams currently make up 25 percent of a student's final grade and the school system is still working on a new grading system.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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