Photo courtesy of Broward County Public Schools
Due to the coronavirus crisis, Broward County Public Schools has entirely transitioned to online classes to complete the fourth quarter. The district has acknowledged the difficulties associated with this transition for teachers and students alike and thus has altered its standards for the 2019-2020 school year. The district has issued a directive that forbids teachers from assigning final exams.
Traditionally, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been allowed to exempt out of three final exams, in any class, given that they have earned a grade of a B or higher in the third and fourth quarters. Classes that have end-of-course exams never have additional final exams.
This year, all state end-of-course exams have been canceled. The classes that normally administer end-of-course exams are Honors or regular Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology and U.S. History. Instead, substitute grades will be issued, which will account for 30% of a student’s overall grade in the course.
“I agree with canceling EOCs mainly for procedural reasons,” U.S. History teacher Michael Marino said. “Also, review is a big part of class this time of the year to help with expectations on the test. The online aspect makes it difficult to have some of those inspirational talks or encouraging moments when doing review activities in class.”
Students in end-of-course exam classes will receive a substitute grade based on their course grade for the fourth quarter. If a student earns a grade of an A, B or C in the fourth quarter, their end-of-course substitution grade will be derived from the highest letter grade earned in quarters 1-4 of the 2019-2020 academic year. If a student earns a D in the fourth quarter, the substitution grade will be the higher of the quarter grades from quarters 3-4.
Additionally, for seniors, end-of-course exam requirements for graduation have been waived. If a senior has not yet passed the Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology or U.S. History end-of-course exams, they are no longer required to do so to graduate in 2020.
“I focus on students’ abilities throughout the school year with the work they turn in and the effort that they put into my classes,” Marino said. “To me, that tells me if a student learned enough, not just the results of a standardized test.”
In non-end-of-course exam classes, which includes every class except Honors or regular Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology and U.S. History, all final exams have been automatically waived. The grade given in place of the final exam in these classes will be the higher of the quarter grades from quarters 3-4.
“I have mixed feelings regarding the universal cancellation of exams,” senior Bryan Cooke said. “I would like to show my teachers what I learned throughout the year, but it’s already a very stressful time.”
The waiving of final exams and end-of-course exams is just one in a number of steps taken by the district to ease the burden of the transition to online classes during a global pandemic. This step is unprecedented, but then again, so are the circumstances.