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School exam policy raises questions

By By Terry R. Cassreino / assistant managing editor
June 4, 2002
The principal of a Meridian junior high school allowed teachers to exempt students from final exams last month as long as they had at least a passing average in class.
But Phillip Daniels also directed teachers to give students who took an exam not less than a minimum passing grade of 70 regardless of how they performed on the year-end test.
Meridian School Superintendent Janet McLin said she disagreed with exempting every student with a passing grade. Plus, she said, students should receive whatever grade they earn on a final exam.
Memo details plan
Daniels outlined Kate Griffin's final exam policy in a memo dated May 6 and distributed to the school's faculty and staff.
The memo said final grades were due at noon May 27, the last day of exams. Report cards were issued May 28; summer school registration was the next day.
Fred Wile, president of the five-member Meridian School Board which sets policy for the city's public school district said he learned about Daniels' final exam policy Monday.
McLin said that Meridian public schools don't have a school board-approved policy for exempting students from end-of-year exams. Instead, she said, the school system has its "districtwide practice."
For instance, she said, teachers at Northwest Junior High School and Meridian High School can exempt students from final exams if they have "A," "B" and "C" averages.
However, McLin said, teachers can't exempt students with a "D" average the equivalent of a numerical grade 70-75. Plus, she said, students receive whatever grade they earn on their final exam.
McLin plans action
If a student takes a final exam, McLin said, then two things should happen they should receive the grade they earn and that score should count toward their final average.
McLin now plans to meet with other principals in the school district and discuss their final exam policies. She said Kate Griffin's policy will change for the next school year.
The superintendent also said she will give Daniels' "situation consideration for further action." McLin, however, declined to say what that could include.
Daniels said he doesn't understand why his policy should worry anyone. Because a final exam is 10 percent of a student's final grade, he said, his policy didn't change whether a student passed or failed.
He said a student with a failing average would still have failed the class by taking an exam and receiving a score of 70. Plus, he said, a student with a passing would have passed the class if he took the exam.
Daniels could not say how many of Kate Griffin's students were exempted from final exams last month. Kate Griffin had about 452 students attending eighth and ninth grades.
Exempting final exams:
Here is a look at Kate Griffin Junior High School's policy last month for final exams.
The policy: Teachers were able to exempt students from final exams if they had a passing average.
The exam: Teachers could give students who took a final exam not less than a minimum passing grade of 70 for the test regardless of their performance.
The reason: Principal Phillip Daniels said the policy made it easier for teachers to post final grades before the May 29 summer school registration.

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