Houston school officials look to change final exam policy

jmink@macon.comDecember 10, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Beginning next semester, end-of-course exams will be worth 20 percent of final grades for all high school students in Houston County, if the revision is approved Tuesday by the board of education.

For years, the state department of education has mandated that students in certain high school courses take final exams that make up a percentage of their final grades.

In 2011, those students were separated into two groups. For those who entered ninth grade after July 1, 2011, the exams are worth 20 percent of their final grade. That rate is lowered to 15 percent for students who entered ninth grade before July 1, 2011.

But district officials are looking to change that rule and make the exam worth 20 percent for all students, regardless of when they started high school.

“We began to realize, for some courses, it is possible to have students in both groups in the same classes, with the same teachers and the same work,” Linda Horne, assistant superintendent for school operations, said Monday during a school board work session. “We needed to make sure we were consistent.”

The revision would be beneficial to administrators and teachers, some of whom must override grading software to make sure each student receives the correct final grade depending on when he or she started high school, Horne said.

In two years, when most high school students will have started after July 2011, the 20 percent grading scale will apply to all students anyway, Superintendent Robin Hines said.

“You would think the lower percentage would be better for the kids,” he said, “but that’s not the case.”

District officials have met with school leaders and counselors, who say the change should not negatively impact students.

Officials are making sure students understand the revision, Horne said.

“It makes more sense when you look at what’s taking place in the classroom,” she said.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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