Catch: Students find success in reintroducing final exams


Students take part in a final exam at the University of Vienna. WJ students have worked tirelessly in recent years in order to hold exam sessions of their own to prep for college and demonstrate their topical know-how.

Sam Falb, Senior News Editor

After three years of picketing county offices and abusing testing officials over social media, the students of Montgomery County have finally achieved what they’ve fought for so passionately: the reintroduction of final exams.

Exams were initially replaced by quarterly testing, which was later removed altogether due to an updated Maryland law.

The series of events that followed exams’ elimination only served to dishearten the MCPS community even more, climaxing in hostile protests and vandalism before the county decision last week.
We caught up with MCPS students at a protest outside of the superintendent’s home in the spring.

“I cannot believe we’ve had to deal with this for so long! I just wanted some prep for college and good grades to show for my work,” sophomore Sarah Thomas said, lobbing a tomato at the superintendent’s front door.

Thomas and the Students United in Suffering Coalition (SUSC) sponsored multiple demonstrations to voice their support for exams in county schools over the past few months as tensions escalated to their highest levels yet.

The group will now play a key role in determining how testing will be reintroduced.
“They’re a bright bunch of students and I’ve been really honored to work with them on their initiatives,” WJ Physics teacher William Morris said.

SUSC and Morris will meet with Superintendent Smith next week in the first of a series of talks that will help county offices improve and streamline the exam process before integrating them back into the annual testing schedule once more.

The exams were originally removed from county protocol after complaints from community parents that students were being overworked with so much standardized testing (exams, HSAs, SAT/ACT…). The county subsequently revoked midterm and final exams, replacing them with quarterly assessments in a variety of classes.

While at first it seemed as though this solution would provide students with sufficient cumulative testing at the closure of each quarter, parents fought back once again with just as much passion as before.
“So we were at this meeting right. We were sitting there and got the news that the parents were going nuts again. Then I was like, ‘Oh great, well now what do we do?’ and the SMOB at the time, Eric Guerci, was like, ‘well… what about an obstacle course?’ and I was like ‘duuuude’ and he was like ‘duuuude’ and yeah so that’s what we did,” MCPS Vice President of Testing Procedure Charles Norton said.

For an interim period last year, students across the county participated in a five-stage obstacle course with stages such as a tire swing, mud crawl, relay race and Jeopardy-style questions rounding up the challenge. After this addition to the curriculum received similarly negative reception as prior changes, SUSC and the larger MCPS community decided it had finally had enough.

“We’re excited to finally have a voice in this process after so many obstacles, for lack of a better word,” Thomas said. “I would definitely expect to see exams back in their rightful place as soon as the end of this school year.”