MSD makes midterms mandatory for EOC classes


Kate Becker

Here’s the Facts. Principal Michelle Kefford discusses various topics at the monthly SAC meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Among them was a proposal to require students to take midterms for classes with an end-of-course exam.

Jasmine Bhogaita, News Editor

Eighty-four percent of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teachers in the math, science, social studies and exceptional student education departments voted to approve a waiver on Tuesday, Feb. 21 that will make midterms mandatory for classes with end-of-course exams starting next school year.

The proposal waives Broward County Public School’s Policy 4000, which allows classes with an EOC to exempt the midterm, but not the final exam. The waiver will require all students in Algebra I, Geometry, Biology and U.S. History to sit for the midterm in those classes, regardless of the semester grade.

Currently, students who have earned a grade of a B or higher during both the first and second quarters are able to exempt the midterm in any class, except for advanced placement courses for up to three classes. However, students who have a quarter grade of C or lower in a class are required to take the midterm.

Policy 4000 has been waived for EOC classes at six other high schools in the Broward Schools district: Cooper City High School, Everglades High School, Fort Lauderdale High School, Miramar High School, South Broward High School and Piper High School.

On the Algebra I and Geometry EOC, MSD’s pass rate ranks third compared to other high schools in the district. It is directly behind Cooper City High School, which is in second place and has implemented the waiver and Cypress Bay High School which is in first place has not. MSD also ranks third in the biology pass rate, trailing behind Cypress Bay High School in first and West Broward in second, both of which have not introduced the waiver. In U.S. history, MSD ranks first.

The goal of waiving this policy would be to boost MSD’s performance on the EOC exams. This would further solidify the school’s “A” rating, based on the school’s test scores, as well as increase MSD’s rank against other schools in Broward County.

Proponents of the new waiver argue that the midterms will provide vital diagnostic data about gaps in student knowledge. Using this, teachers feel they can better prepare students to ensure they can improve their skills before the EOC.

“If we don’t get the information back into the students’ heads at some point, you are now asking a kid in May to remember something from August,” Assistant Principal Anna Koltunova said. “It would be so much easier for them to recall material from December when they take the midterm.”

The mandatory midterms will also serve as a tool that will require students to study and review for the EOC. Teachers argue those who have exempted the midterm in the past likely do not review during the school year’s halfway point. Teachers believe students will be more motivated to study what they have learned thus far in the year if they have to take the midterm, making it easier to do well when the EOC rolls around.

Some students and teachers believe adding the provision may inflict more stress on students who are also taking AP midterm exams, since they are mandatory.

“If we follow through with this process, we would be putting more stress and anxiety into the student body, especially those in higher level classes, and make it that much harder for them to succeed in the rest of their classes,” senior Jonmarco Aponte said. “I wholeheartedly believe that the system we have in place, which rewards students for their outstanding grades, is a beneficial part of our system and should remain.”

Teachers argue that while the midterms can inflict more stress, the benefits of the additional practice will outweigh the consequences.
“Truthfully, the teachers that are teaching the content wouldn’t be asking [themselves] to do more work unless it was truly valid and in the best interest for the academic integrity and content of the students,” Assistant Principal Sandra Davis said.

A handful of parents raised concerns at School Advisory Committee and community input meetings about whether the new midterm waiver would put ESE students at a disadvantage because those with learning disabilities may have to work harder to maintain their grade. ESE parents believe it removes the incentive for these students to push themselves to work hard during the semester to earn a grade to exempt.

The EOC midterm waiver will last for five years, but has to be reauthorized each year through the School Advisory Committee and a vote that requires a minimum of two-thirds of the teachers voting to approve it.

This story was originally published in the March 2023 Eagle Eye print edition.