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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 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 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 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,

Lori March 19, 2012 at 12:06 AM
The biggest reason that the SAT score is optional at some colleges is mainly to increase URM enrollment. SAT tests favor the better school districts and wealthier students who can pay for the test as well as expensive prep courses. It has nothing to do with visual versus auditory learners. Also, the suggestion about an art portfolio.........just made you lose all credibility.
JKW March 19, 2012 at 02:00 AM
504 plans are not established to level the playing fields for students. They are designed to help meet the needs of individuals and make accomodations or provide specific assistance so students can be successful and work to their potential. Parents who advocate for their children to have a 504 plan are taking needed steps to ensure the best education for their children which is every child's right! These plans are intended to help each individual learn and thrive within the school system. All children learn differently, have strengths and weaknesses. A child doesn't have a 504 plan to compete with others. It is to foster the best possible learning experience while accounting for these strengths and weaknesses. There are many reasons for a student to have a 504 plan and thank goodness our district recognizes this need.
SZ March 19, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Here are two links to websites to help parents understand their child's rights under Sec. 504: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html http://www.wrightslaw.com/ JKW - It is not just the parent's responsibility to advocate for a 504 Plan for their child, the district has a responsibility to refer a student for an evaluation if the student, because of disability, needs or is believed to need special education or related aids and services or modification to regular education. What is your basis for stating that "thank goodness our district recognizes the need? I am not aware of any referral tracking or other tracking that would tell someone how well any district identifies, evaluates and provides services under IDEA/Sec. 504 to eligible students.
M.H. March 27, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Horrible idea. While Ridge was stressful, it prepared me for the stressful reality of college life and education. And tests do not always determine the majority of a grade. In high school economics, I made D's on every exam, but pulled off a C average thanks to writing assignments and homework portion of my final grade.
MN March 27, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Part of what made Ridge a great high school is that students that graduated from there were better prepared for college. College is a huge adjustment to begin with and now we want to throw newly graduated people into an arena when they've learned how to sit for an exam? Having a test once a week does not prepare you for studying for material that you haven't looked at in months it teaches teenagers that you can learn something and forget it next week. That is not a way to learn. Having graduated from this district I remember taking midterms and finals in 8th grade to better prepare ourselves for what's ahead. Learning those lessons so early on had it ingrained in me how to handle the stress and spread out the studying so I actually learned concepts not just memorized them to regurgitate them on a test.

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