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Although a lack of final exams may make WCHS students happy in the short-term, exams are a very important part of college. Without exams, students are not being prepared for the intensive rigors of college.
In college, “Finals Week” is a series of exams that is traditionally administered after the end of a course. Finals week was previously administered in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), but in 2015 the school system made a big decision to eliminate final exams following the school year.
According to a September 2018 Washington Post article, the number of A’s in math courses at MCPS almost doubled between 2015 and 2016. Although these grades are great news for WCHS students when they receive them, they may not be as appreciative of the removal of exams in the future.
When college admission officers see higher grades, an A’s worth may be lowered, or they can even almost completely disregard MCPS grades during the process of student selection.
These high grades indicate a lower difficulty level required to get an A. If a student is able to get an A with little effort at WCHS, that same student will be unprepared for college where intense amounts of effort is required.
At WCHS, A’s are way easier to get than in college. MCPS reports that 77% of students in the Class of 2016 had at least a 3.51 GPA or above.
In college, a C is considered an average grade, a B is considered a great grade and an A is considered an exceptional grade, for the best of the best work. This is reflected in PrepScholar’s 3.15 average college GPA, signaling a higher degree of difficulty required for an A.
Although college should be harder than high school, an easier high school experience is detrimental to these prospective college students.
When MCPS removed final exams, they also added a new rule: the round-up semester grading system.
The round-up semester grading system makes it easier for students to earn an A by providing them with 2 quarters to earn grades and then averaging the grades. For example, a first quarter C and a second quarter A would give the student a first semester B (according the MCPS grading policy).
While this grading system may appear great for students, it over inflates grades due to one part of the policy. When a student gets a B and A, B and C, etc, the grade rounds up to the higher letter grade, regardless of percentage.
This new grading policy, combined with the removal of final exams, is detrimental to a student’s grades.
The round-up semester grading system gives students two chances to get a better grade if the student goes through a rough patch academically. However, the removal of final exams does nothing except make students happier in the short term.
Although students reap the benefits of the removal right now, the new policy will destroy MCPS in the minds of colleges, leaving students ill prepared with over-inflated grades. Something has to change, and it should start with the reinstatement of final exams.