Right up there with “Will this count for a grade?” and “Oh, when was that  assigned?” one of the most common questions teachers get this time of year is “Can I be exempt from the final exam?”

The answer is, “It all depends.”

The school handbook says students may be exempt from a final exam (not a state-mandated End Of Course test) if he or she has an A average and no more than three absences of any kind; a B average and no more than two absences; and a C average and no more than one absence.

But if only it were that simple. The handbook goes on to say that students may not have a combination of more than five tardies/early dismissals; may not have any in-school (ISS) or out-of-school (OSS) suspensions; and may not have any zeroes on assignments.

And then there is the biggest catch of all: “A teacher may require a student to take the final exam if the teacher feels it is in the academic interest of the student,” the handbook states.

In other words, teachers have a huge amount of discretion when it comes to exam exemptions. Some go along with the policy as outlined in the handbook, while others say, “No exemptions, period.”

Math teacher Jennifer Kotler falls into that latter category. “I want to have a grade that I can control and a test that I can have prepared so that it’s in the best interest of my students,” Kotler said.

French teacher Erin Flannery has a similar opinion. “Everybody should have to take them. College doesn’t exempt. Life doesn’t exempt,” Flannery said.

But agricultural science teacher Amy Rickman has a different take on exam exemptions, and it makes her more of the exception among the handful of teachers interviewed by The Ville News.

Rickman believes granting students exemptions, provided they meet the criteria, gives them an incentive during the school year.

“It rewards students for good grades and good attendance,” she said. “It’s awesome.”

Story by Abbey Lewis, Sarah Kovach and Kyra Hodge


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