Regarding the Sept. 11 editorial “Flunking the final exam”:
The decision to replace two-hour semester exams in Montgomery County Public Schools with quarterly marking period assessments is not about making life easier for kids or hiding bad test scores, as the editorial suggested. It is about building a thoughtful assessment structure that will reclaim valuable instructional time and ensure our educators have the information they need to support our students.
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.
Assessment is an important part of education, but we must make sure that tests serve a clear purpose and don’t get in the way of instruction. It is time for our strategy to evolve so that it better meets the needs of our students.
Patricia B. O’Neill, Rockville
The writer is president of the Montgomery County Board of Education.
Larry A. Bowers, Rockville
The writer is interim superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools.