Some Washington, D.C.-area school districts are reporting failure rates of 20% to 60% on some math final exams. Still, many districts do not maintain data on final exams, which has sparked questions about the role they play in today's schools where more emphasis is being placed on state-mandated tests, course grades, graduation rates and other factors. "How important are they, and if they're not important, why are they still there?" asked Francis "Skip" Fennell, a professor of education at McDaniel College in Maryland and past president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

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