ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The superintendent will give students the highest possible grade on any district final exam that was canceled because of technical issues on the test-taking computers, a St. Johns County School District spokeswoman told News4Jax on Tuesday.
Spokeswoman Christina Langston said Superintendent Tim Forson announced to the St. Johns County School Board Tuesday morning that to adjust the grading scale to make it fair to all students in grades, each student will be given the highest grade possible, which is 100%, on any final exam of theirs that was canceled.
Later in the day, Forson sent parents a message that included more details about how second-semester final grades in the affected middle and high school courses will be calculated:
- "The 3rd quarter and 4th quarter grades each maintain a weight of 45% to the final grade.
- "The district final exam maintains a weight of 10% and maximum possible value will be given.
- "The district final exam portion of the grade will have the greatest impact for students who are within a point or two of the next higher letter grade (for example: with maximum points on the district final exam, a student with an 89, B average, will advance to a 90, A, for the final grade)."
Corey Udell, a sophomore at Ponte Vedra High School, said although he was prepared, he's glad he doesn't have to take district final exams.
"It's more of a stress reliever," he told News4Jax at Ponte Vedra High's baseball game Tuesday night. "We don't have to go through that week of testing twice a day."
His mother, Holly Udell, also weighed in on the district canceling final exams and granting students a 100% on them.
"Probably, it should be that it's not counted at all as part of the grade, however, that is fair," she said. "It's erring on the side of fairness."
Another parent, Susanne Gainer, described the whole situation as "unfortunate."
"But I think we all understand that sometimes there are situations that you have to deal with the best way you can," she added.
Elementary students’ grades will not be impacted by the cancellation of the exams.
Forson told parents and staff that he decided to cancel district final exams last week and this week because of significant issues with the administration of the computer-based tests that could not be fixed in a timely manner.
Langston told News4Jax that the technical difficulties experienced were internal to the district's system. Though she could not go into details, she said there were many problems -- an example being the system rebooting multiple times in the middle of students taking tests, which she said can negatively affect a student’s psychological state while taking a test. Langston said even more stress would have been put on the system if tests continued to be taken.
Forson said his decision to cancel district-created and teacher-created final exams does not apply to the following assessments: iReady, Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), state End of Course (EOC) exams, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Dual Enrollment or Cambridge AICE.
Udell said his goal now is to focus on those other tests.