By JESSIE FARR
Each year, I hear the debate over whether students at MCHS should take semester exams. The policy at MCHS is as follows:
"To encourage good attendance and reward those who are able to maintain an exceptional record, the following attendance policy will be implemented:
1. Students who have earned an "A" in a class will not be required to take the final test.
2. Students earning a "B" grade with two absences or fewer will not be required to take the final.
3. Students earning a "C" with no more than one absence will not be required to take the final.
4. Note: The reasons for absences will not be considered in determining who takes finals and who does not. Also, for purposes of this policy, three unexcused tardies will be considered an absence.
5. Unless excused from the final test through this policy or through special arrangement with the principal, students must take final tests in order to receive credit for their classes.
6. Students with excused absences from final test sessions will receive up to two weeks in which to make up their tests.
7. If a student's absence from a test session is deemed unexcused, that student will lose credit for the entire course.
One of the most prevalent debates on the exam policy is the need to prepare students to take exams in college. Preparation for college, however, begins long before the high school experience with solid basic skills as well as responsible habits and excellent attendance.
Attendance in class sessions is imperative for learning, and this policy was implemented many years ago to encourage that necessary attendance. In fact, MCHS has a 93.6 percent attendance rate; a quick glance at the School Accountability Report reveals that this excellent attendance record has been maintained throughout the last three years.
For those parents who are still concerned about the need for their child(ren) to have the exam experience, they may elect to have their child(ren) take the exams voluntarily. This semester, I have had parents tell me that they handle this dilemma in different ways. One parent has her children take all exams during their freshman and sophomore years, and beyond that, the child may decide which exams to take if exempt. Another parent has her child take at least two exams per semester if the child is exempt from exams.
No doubt, the learning that takes place from studying for and taking an exam is important; it is our job at MCHS to ensure that even if a student is not taking a final exam, he/she will most likely see numerous unit or section exams that require the same preparedness as a semester exam. Thus, he/she should still gain the essential skills of test-taking throughout his/her high school career.
Any parent/guardian who has questions or comments about the policy is welcome to call me at 970-824-7036 to discuss this issue. I look forward to hearing your ideas!
(Jessie Farr is the assistant principal at Moffat County High School).