Passaic Valley Switches Back to Midterms and Finals After 5 Years of QBAs
Arcangelo Iurato '21
30 January 2020
After five years, midterms and finals have replaced the Quarterly Based Assessments (QBAs) as the method of assessing student progress throughout the year. From January 27-30, students took their midterms following a revised early dismissal schedule, which featured two exam periods per day. A similar schedule will be followed for finals during the last week of school.
Midterms and finals were the big assessments of the year until both were replaced with QBAs. In this system, students were tested once a marking period during their regularly scheduled class periods.
"We felt that the QBAs were not necessarily preparing students for a longer sustained test.," said Dr. Jared Fowler, Assistant Principal of Humanities.
Dr. Fowler pointed to prolonged tests common at the college level and reflected in standardized assessments like NJSLA (formerly PARCC), ACT and SAT as reason for switching back to midterms and finals. "Those tests are hours long," said Dr. Fowler. "While [QBAs were] great for the marking period as a larger grade, we are preparing our students by going back to midterms, because it is a longer sustained amount of testing time."
There is no question that the midterms and finals are a lot more rigorous, requiring content knowledge, time management skills, and allowing for more intensive writing sections. "It gives us a chance to track where our students really are," Dr. Fowler said. "It gives us the opportunity to see if they are really prepared for the next phase of their education."
Despite the change in exam format, grades for midterm and final exams will still factor into teacher evaluation, like the first three QBAs did. "We used to have midterms before we had Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) for teachers," Dr. Fowler said. "We felt that it would be better at the time to have three separate tests. We're still doing that, but we've replaced it with individual unit tests plus the midterms. So, it counts more for teachers and their scores."
An added bonus of the change: Students will need to devote more attention and care to these assessments than they did for the QBAs. "When studying for a test that is 10% of your grade, I think you'd take it more seriously," said Dr. Fowler.