By Stuart Foster, Contributing Writer
MARLBOROUGH – The Marlborough School Committee voted to eliminate Marlborough High School’s set schedule for midterms and final exams at a meeting on Sept. 28.
This will not prevent teachers from issuing midterms, final exams or other major summative assessments. But it will remove dedicated days for them. It will also change the weighting of grades from 20 percent per term with 10 percent reserved for midterms and finals, respectively, to 25 percent per term. Midterm and final grades will now simply be factored into term grades.
MHS Principal Daniel Riley said that the MHS leadership team recommended this change after organizing a committee to analyze the assessment schedule and student outcomes in the 2019-2020 school year.
“We found that 85 to 90 percent of students’ grades went down as a result of that grading criteria,” Riley said.
With the seven days dedicated to exams gone, Riley said that MHS would gain just over 40 hours of additional instruction time each year.
Riley added that teachers will also have the opportunity not to issue midterms or finals for students if they are already significantly tested throughout the year, particularly for sophomore students.
“The problem with the schedule is it makes it a consistent practice that has to happen across all classes across the high school at all levels,” Riley said. “So, this change gives us flexibility where we can institute the major summative assessment piece where we need to, but it doesn’t have to be a schoolwide midterm final exam schedule.”
Riley said that not having a midterm or final exam schedule is something that would be unique at the high school level. He described this as a step that other schools haven’t taken yet.
Riley added that he has heard school districts that he collaborates with have conversations about over-testing. But he said that the difficulty of implementing certain changes has prevented those districts from taking this step.
“Therefore, some of the things I’ve heard from some of my colleagues is they would love to explore this, but they’re not sure they would get the support to move it in the right direction,” Riley said.
Riley said that this change would give MHS the ability to look at the overall impact of exam scheduling on students. It would also let the school have conversations with teachers about the necessity of major summative assignments, Riley said.