COLUMBIA, S.C. — All South Carolina high school students are required to take final exams that usually account for 20 percent of their grade. The Department of Education has announced they’re waiving that grade requirement to help alleviate stress during the pandemic.
The waiver is for the 2020-2021 school year. In a letter to district superintendents, Superintendent Molly Spearman with the state Department of Education said districts may choose whether to include the test scores in the calculation of students’ final grades or not.
"A district could op to do so since the tests still have to be given, but it’s our hope that districts will use this flexibility from the superintendent so our teachers can spend more time focused on student learning and student wellness," said Patrick Kelly with the Palmetto State Teacher’s Association.
Kelly is a high school teacher in Richland School District Two. He says he’s seen a student cry while taking an end of course exam because it’s such a high stakes test.
"We know that students are under immense stress right now because of the effects of the pandemic. And anything our school systems can do to reduce that stress is meaningful," Kelly said.
Students still have to take the tests under federal law, but this new waiver makes it so they don’t have to stress about their exam grades. The 20% grade requirement, is a state law, not federal. That's why Spearman can waive it.
Spearman has requested the US department of education to waive the required exams for the 2020-2021 school year but hasn’t heard back.