Ridge to End Midterms and Finals Next Year
High school students will instead be given 'assessments' at the end of each marking period.
This will be the last school year that Ridge High School students can expect to take midterm and final exams.
The longstanding twice-a-year exams will be discontinued for high school students following this school year, Bernards Schools Superintendent Valerie Goger said.
The superintendent said a letter with additional information will be sent to parents in the school district's Friday Folder email to parents.
In place of the two exams, for which the school twice a year arranged a special exam schedule in lieu of regular classes, high school classes will administer quarterly assessment tests without canceling the day's classes, Goger said.
Quarterly assessment will average into the marking period grades. The assessment grades won't be listed on report cards as a separate average grade, as midterms and exams are now, Goger said.
The Board of Education discussed the issue at Monday's meeting, although no formal vote was taken. Board president Susan Carlsson said she does not believe the board needed to vote on the change in testing procedure, which Goger had said earlier on Monday is supported by the school administration.
Board member Robin McKeon, in reporting on the board's curriculum committee, said that board committee had discussed the advantages of quarterly assessments. Some of those advantages are that although the period with testing may be made longer, all classes could still be held that day.
McKeon, and the school administration, said that eliminating the special schedule for midterms and final exams could add as much as 10 instructional days, or about six hours of instructional time per class, during the year year. A reduction in stress also was seen as an advantage.
Board member Michael Byrne said he was "very troubled" by the elimination of midterm and finals. He said students should be capable of remembering material learned within three to four months, and he feared that getting rid of a standard exam schedule wil "breech the system."
"I hope you don't destroy the district," Byrne said.
Earlier on Monday, Sarah Bonnefoi, co-president of the Ridge High School Parent-Teacher Organization, said that the school's PTO as well as the parent representatives to the Parent Advisory Council at Ridge are all in favor of eliminating the larger tests.
Goger also said before the meeting that there are a number of motivations for eliminating midterm and final exams, including giving students relief from an already over-burdening testing schools and to reduced the often detrimental impact midterms and finals have on a student’s grades.
She said other advantages of shifting to a more frequent testing schedule would be the development of end-of-marking period assessments that would more accurately reflect whether students had retained the learning of material, rather than just rote memorization.
The more frequent testing system would align with a "21st century skill initiative which focuses on more frequent assessment opportunities for students," the superindent said.
Goger said the change would more recognize varied student learning styles and move away from a "one size fits all" testing model. She said the more frequent testing schedule aligns with more recent assessment models for testing at the high school level.
Creating the new tests also would discourage the use of old exams or methods of cheating which do not accurately reflect a students’ grade, according to Goger.
At the meeting, parent Reena Pichamuthu said she feels that with either system of testing, the issue really is whether students are given adequate time to study and prepare for the tests.
Before midterms began this year, Patch posted a poll asking whether readers felt that midterms should be eliminated, or continued. The results, with voting still open, is here.