NEWARK– School system officials agreed to waive final exams for first semester courses after hearing concerns from teachers.
The Worcester County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to waive final exams for first semester courses because of the number of students in COVID-19 quarantine and isolation.
Annette Wallace, the school system’s chief operating and academic officer for grades 9-12, told the school board she’d been approached a week ago by staff with concerns regarding holding exams that counted for 20% of a student’s grade when so many weren’t able to attend school because of COVID-19. Teachers were also worried about how they’d potentially give makeup exams to students who were in quarantine on the exam days. Wallace said it would be challenging to give makeup exams to students after the semester had changed, as they’d have different class schedules.
“It also would be a burden for our students,” she said.
She said an average of 63 staff members were out daily last week because of COVID-19 while an average of 534 students were out.
“It is a significant concern,” she said. “We felt like when we looked at those numbers the feelings of our teachers were on point.”
Superintendent Lou Taylor added that while the school system was proposing to waive final exams, there would still be a culminating activity for each class such as a test or project.
The board voted unanimously to approve the recommendation to waive the final exam policy for the first semester. School board member Jon Andes, who retired from the position of superintendent in 2012, suggested the executive team consider changing the weight of the final exam in the future.
“I hope at some point we go back and revisit that,” he said, adding that the final exam used to account for 10% of a student’s grade. “As a person who’s a poor test taker, having a final exam count for 20% would’ve been a significant issue for me.”
Taylor said the policy would be reviewed in the coming months.
“I’ve not been happy with that policy since taking over as superintendent,” he said.
Taylor said his team would review the issue and return to the board with a recommendation.
“We will do our homework and our due diligence,” he said.