The New Final Exemption Policy: Is it Fair?

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Via CanStockPhoto

Aryan Chadha, Staff Writer

As the semester progresses and finals start to near, the new final exemption policy is becoming a source of frustration for many students. Some students were even entirely unaware that the county put the policy into place. The county-wide policy, which states that students may not exempt any final exams in any classes, was announced at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year and can be found in the CCSD board policies handbook. To counteract this measure, students from around the county have set up petitions to rescind the policy. Some students argue about reverting to the approach adopted last year when students could exempt any final if they had an A in the class. Others have said they would settle for one which requires a grade threshold and a limited number of unexcused absences. To better understand how people around Wheeler felt about the policy, we took interviews of students and teachers.

Many students were opposed to the fact that their exceptional grades in a class didn’t translate to skip a final exam. “If I’m doing well in a class, there’s no need to waste my time on a final.” Ewuraba Buckle (11). Ewuraba also reminisced about the exemption policy last year: “I wish we could go back to when you could skip the final when you had an A in the class.”

Some students also believe that the new policy is incredibly unfair towards students who must take EOCs and AP exams. “Next semester, I’ll have to study for AP exams, an EOC, and finals.” Nandu Polavarapu (11) Many students share his sentiment in the magnet program, who often have three or more AP classes per year. Additionally, he also brings up a good point about the validity of finals in general: “I just don’t think a couple of multiple-choice questions are a good representation of what we’ve learned and done all year. Especially if we’ve already proved ourselves as exceptional students.”

Students also view final exemption as an extra incentive to perform better in class. “Final exemptions were a good incentive to show up to school and get an A in the class. I know some people who don’t feel like they have to go to school because absences don’t even matter anymore.” Vachan Patel (11)

Vachan Patel in an interview about the exemption policy.

Another interesting perspective is the freshmen, who’ve never had finals before. “I’m not happy about it; it’s unfair that grades in the past got to exempt finals, but now we can’t.” Haman Syed (9th) He may not have experienced the previous policies himself, but he has been made aware of them and is now unhappy with the current situation.

When asked for the reason for this change, most students shrugged or talked about how the county hates their students. One student, Rithu Hegde (11), believed that the incentive to come to school was too high, and the county didn’t want students to go to school sick. To get to the bottom of the real reason, teachers were asked for their opinions and why. “They wanted county consistency. You could see how [different school policies] could be problematic if it were part of your grade.” Said one of the History teachers; Alissa Jean. Other teachers reiterated this, citing county consistency as the main reason for the change.

In conclusion, the controversial change to exemption policies definitely needs to be revised in the future. Students taking AP classes are already taking college-level courses, and the least the county could do is take some of the workload right before AP exams. Also, a huge issue is how the change disincentivizes students to come to school as often as possible. On the other hand, the county’s efforts to create consistency make sense. Overall, the new final exam exemption policy will continue to frustrate students, even if the reason to implement it is somewhat justifiable.

Mrs. Jean in an interview about the exemption policy.