With mixed reaction in focus groups to ideas for scrapping or changing final exams in Montgomery County, district officials put the question out for broader public comment this week.
The school system’s rethinking about the end-of-semester assessments comes amid concerns about over-testing and lost instructional time. It also follows a history of steep exam failure rates — exceeding 60 percent in some cases — among high school students taking key math courses.
Four options for change have been outlined, including one — Option D — that would end traditional exams in high school-level courses and replace them with shorter marking-period assessments that could include unit tests, projects and portfolios.
Other options affecting high school-level courses (which are sometimes taken by middle schoolers) include:
●Eliminating final exams in high-school level courses, with variations including only ending second-semester exams or only scrapping exams in courses that include state assessments (Option B).
●Keeping cumulative final exams in high school-level courses, but scheduling them over multiple class periods rather than in two-hour blocks (Option C).
One proposal is aimed at middle school-level courses: Ending two-hour final exams, replacing them with unit or marking-period assessments (Option A).
Comments may be submitted until July 10 through a questionnaire on the school system’s Web site. The school board is slated to take up the issue July 14.