School board considers cutting first-semester exams

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A draft exam policy to be considered by the Shelby County Board of Education in July could help students pass classes they might otherwise have failed and avoid summer school.

Larry Headrick, high school coordinator for Shelby County Schools, presented the draft of a new final exam policy to the school board at its June 8 meeting.

He pointed out the biggest changes

would be one final exam, no exams in December, more time for teachers to teach and more time for students to improve grades.

Headrick explained that at present Shelby County Schools have half-semester classes. He said if one takes first semester English, for example, one gets a half credit.

In December, he said, the last four days there is an exam scheduled. &8220;We stop teaching. We extend periods, and we give exams. And that exam counts 20 percent of the grade along with 80 percent. If they (students) pass they get a half credit and they get ready for next semester.&8221;

He said the same thing happens in May.

According to Shelby County School Superintendent Evan Major, in the coming year there will no longer be half credit classes except for government and economics and some electives.

Sticking with his English example, Headrick said, &8220;The state has said you either give one credit of English or you don&8217;t get any credit.&8221;

As a result, in December when report cards go out, &8220;That&8217;s a progress report,&8221; said Headrick. &8220;This is where you stand. It&8217;s like a mid term in college … If you&8217;ve got a low grade then you know that you&8217;ve got the rest (of the year) to work to get this grade up.&8221;

He said now if one had a 55 average in December one failed and would have to go to summer school.

Major said, &8220;The advantage is to the student.&8221;

Headrick said &8220;We&8217;ll have less people in summer school because the students will realize now, hey, I better get busy better get started working.&8221;

Under the policy all students in grades 9-12 will take a final exam to be administered according to a schedule recommended by the superintendent and reviewed by the board of education.

The final exam will count 20 percent of the final grade