Students won’t take final exams, school board says

Emily Lovelock, Staff Writer

Students have let out a collective sigh of relief at the news that they won’t be taking final exams online — or at all. Following a recommendation from Brevard Public Schools’ Secondary Leading and Learning, the school board voted on April 14 to waive all secondary semester exams in the county for classes without a state, national or industry assessment. The motion was approved unanimously.

“I think it’s sick because final exams are so long and boring, and while they’re necessary in most cases, I think that almost every student is happy about not having to do them,” Brody Hetzel (10) said.

The decision to cancel final exams in Brevard came just a little over three weeks after the state Department of Education waived all federal testing requirements for K-12 students as a result of the coronavirus causing widespread school shutdowns.

“I thought it was a good move,” Kayla Aranda (12) said, “because some kids can’t learn as effectively outside of the classroom, so they wouldn’t perform as well on the test. Also, it would be a lot more work on the teachers to make a test and grade it for a bunch of kids who were just going to cheat anyways.”

Instead of final exams, students’ grades for the semester will be calculated based solely on their third and fourth quarter performance. However, instead of averaging the exact percentages, the scale will be converted to a simple 4-point scale.

“The district has taken great care to try to help and support our students during this time,” District 3 School Board member Tina Descovich said. “[The new grading scale] greatly benefits all students instead of percentages. For example, if a student has an A third quarter and a B fourth quarter, they would average to an A for the semester. Essentially all students will get the higher of the two grades in a split.”

Descovich also emphasized how the district has been taking steps to help students who are struggling with online learning by encouraging flexible due dates for assignments. This allows students to do their schoolwork in the evening or on weekends for convenience.

 “I’m glad that they cancelled final exams because there are so many other factors weighing on students right now, especially seniors,” Coral Khem (12) said. “We have to worry about the new format of AP exams and still adjusting to online school. I’m grateful to have the extra stress of finals off my shoulders.”

The hope of the School Board, as suggested by Descovich, is that students who take advantage of the flexible due dates will achieve higher grades for the last quarter.

“If a student is struggling they should reach out to [Assistant Principal Glenn] Webb or [Prinicpal Rick] Fleming,” Descovich said. “They will work with the student to give them all the support they need to be successful.”