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Replacing Semester Exams: The Options

In response to the various students and members of the community who voiced their opinions about reducing testing and increasing instructional time, Montgomery County Public Schools reached a game-changing decision: the tedious two-hour exams at the end of each semester will be eliminated. However, it is important to keep in mind that these changes will not be implemented until the 2016-2017 school year.

MCPS has come up with four separate options to evaluate students in lieu of the exams. Option 1 is the Numeric (Percent) Average. This strategy does not involve any kind of final examination. Each marking period would carry equal weight, so the final grade would be determined by averaging the percentage grades of Marking Period 1 and Marking Period 2 (MP1 + MP2 /2).

Option 2 is known as the Quality Point Average. Quarter grades would be reported by letter grade, and the semester grade would be calculated by averaging the quality points (MP1 + MP2 /2). For example, an A would be 4 points, a B, 3 points, C, 2 points, and so on. If a student received an A the first quarter and a B the second quarter, he would have 3.5 average points, which would round up to 4 points, and the student would receive an A for the semester.

For Option 3, the Trend, the semester grade would be calculated by the trend of the student’s marking period grades. For example, if a student earned an A the first quarter, and a B the second quarter, the final grade for the student would be a B. However, if a student received a B the first quarter and an A the second quarter, the student’s final grade would be an A.

Option 4 is vastly different from the previous strategies: there would still be a final examination, weighing at 25%. Instead of the county exams, though, there would be teacher-developed “final evaluations.”

Clearly, there are benefits as well as disadvantages to every option considered. If you have any feedback you would like to provide to the Board, please use the online comment form on the MCPS website. Comments can also be submitted by email to or by mail to the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, 850 Hungerford Drive, Room 122, Rockville, Maryland 20850. All responses on the policy will be shared with the Board of Education and the interim superintendent of schools.

Article by MoCo Student staff writer Inuri Abeysekara of Sherwood High School

About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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