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Wheeling Park High School Exam Exemption Rescinded

WHEELING — Wheeling Park High School junior and seniors with top grades and good attendance no longer will be exempted from end of semester exams.

The Ohio County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to rescind a regulation giving exemption from exams to junior and senior students who have a grade average higher than a “B” in the class, and three or fewer absences from school during the semester.

“We are looking to take that exemption away,” said WPHS Principal Meredith Dailer. “The main reason is we are really trying to hone in on our data that we are using for language arts, and be able to really tell our story, really understand our students and understand our teaching.”

All students take exams at the end of the first and third nine week grading periods, but they had been able to get exemption from end of semester exams. When exams are given to all students, it gives a better picture of students’ strengths and weaknesses and indicates where teaching methods can be improved, according to Dailer.

“Then we remove all the students with A’s and B’s and good attendance from taking the second nine weeks tests,” she said. “Our data becomes apples and oranges, and we really want our data to be apples to apples…

“It doesn’t make sense for us to have this chunk of high achieving group of students removed from the data-producing pieces for us.”

There are other ways now available to administrators to encourage student attendance, Dailer said. In addition, the exemption only is available to juniors and seniors who are “likely sub-par students who likely will move on to college,” according to Dailer.

“We are doing them a disservice by exempting them from these large exams like those we know they will face when they go to college,” she said.

Board member Pete Chacalos, a retired WPHS teacher, spoke in favor of rescinding the exemption.

“I think it is a rude awakening for a student to take a comprehensive chemistry exam for the first time in college. We really do them a disservice in that way.”

School officials reported a strong start to the school year last week even amid Covid 19 conditions.

Board member Grace Norton said she had spoken with a number of teachers who report spending “60 to 65 hours a week” now, with much time spent learning new technology and creating on-line lesson plans for remote learning.

She suggested the board consider in the future hiring additional teachers to handle remote learning responsibilities, freeing the workload of the classroom teacher.

Board president David Croft said the idea might be one the board considers down the road.

The board next meets at 6 p.m. on Sept. 28 at the board office, 2203 National Road in Elm Grove.

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