Some area school districts changing weight of final exams due to snow days

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ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO - Many area St. Louis school districts agreed on canceling classes Monday and Tuesday because of bad weather. Now there is disagreement over how to handle the fallout from those cancellations. The snow days fell during the final exam week for many area districts.

Students in the Ft. Zumwalt School District lost 2 days of in-class review. Superintendent Dr. Bernard DuBray decided to only count the final exam results if they help a student raise their grade.

“This would have never happened if these snows days wouldn’t have butted up against our final exams and that’s never happened before,” said DuBray. “I hope this is just a onetime occurrence.”

The superintendent says feedback over the decision has been mixed but believes most of the school community supports the move. He said, “I think the best thing to do is give the students this opportunity to not be impacted by those days off.”

A similar decision was made in several other area school districts including Francis Howell and Wentzville. A letter sent to Francis Howell parents states, “Because FHSD canceled school on Monday and Tuesday, middle and high school students will not have the opportunity to review in class as scheduled. In order to finish final exams before the break, final exams will be held as originally scheduled Wednesday through Friday. Due to the lack of review time, however, the results of final exams will only be used if they raise a student’s grade. FHSD students are still required to attend school and take finals.”

The Wentzville School District sent a similar letter reading, “Due to schools being closed on Monday and Tuesday of this week, final exams will only be used to positively impact a student's grade this semester. Students will have the opportunity to raise their grades by performing well on their exams, but final exam grades will not be used to bring down any individual semester grade. Students are still required to attend their classes and take their final exams this week once school is back in session.”

Some students in other districts started on-line petitions asking officials to cancel final exams because of the lost time. Lindbergh High School Principal Dr. Eric Cochran responded to a petition in that district and notified students their final exams would be taking place as scheduled. The letter noted students were warned last week about the possibility of lost class time due to weather. The principal said he asked staff to take the lost time into consideration.

The letter from Dr. Cochran read:

“Students,
Now that the snow seems to have finally passed, I wanted to take a moment to quickly write one more note to you about your final exams this week. I appreciate all of your flexibility and understanding, as this creates less than ideal situations for which there are no easy options.
I am aware there is a petition going on right now asking the school to consider exempting all finals for the remainder of the week, unless a student needs them to positively impact their grade. I want to tell how impressed I always am when students feel passionate enough about something to voice a concern. I have nothing but the highest level of admiration for our student body and I feel lucky to express how amazing you all are to anyone who asks.
With this in mind, our plan is to continue with Final exams as scheduled for the remainder of this week. There are a variety of reasons for this decision. First, the student body was preemptively warned by your principal to prepare for a scenario in which finals prep days could be cancelled. I know it does not give you back time where you could have been studying with your teachers, but it was something we all knew was possible. Keep in mind...the teachers are well aware if you missed out on some significant preparation in their individual classes.
Second, I believe there is still some value in students being asked to demonstrate their knowledge from a class, even in less than ideal circumstances. Truth be told, you are going to be asked to take tests in difficult, stressful environments at times. I feel it is important that we still prepare you for these future situations. At this late hour, I am doing my best to be fair to all students, including those who have been feverishly studying for tomorrow's exams all afternoon.
One thing I did do on your behalf is ask our staff to remember that these are less than ideal testing circumstances and to take this into consideration when it comes to their handling of the exams. Again, our teachers are aware if you have missed significant preparation time for their specific course. From what I have heard, many of our teachers have already taken steps to make adjustments over the last couple of days, and for that I am very grateful. I encourage you to take the time over the next three days to do your very best. I have great faith in you and am excited that you will get to hopefully enjoy a well-deserved break at the end of this week.
Please let me know if you need anything at all.”

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