Seniors receive option to exempt from finals
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In December, the District 86 Board of Education voted to let seniors opt out of taking second semester final exams, since the College Board assigned AP testing dates during the week of graduation. The decision is still being enforced, but the school has now sent out new information to senior students to consider their options for second semester finals.
With this new policy, seniors get the choice of whether or not to take their finals, which often depends on what their semester grade would be without it. For students who have border grades, a final can help them boost their grade by a letter, thereby increasing their grade point average.
“The district would like to empower these seniors to demonstrate their responsibility and make informed decisions through allowing them to choose to take their second semester final exams,” the school said in a letter detailing these new changes, which was sent out to seniors and their parents last week.
The letter also stated that because seniors have a lot of experience taking finals, they will understand whether or not they are willing to commit to the time requirements and risk the possible effects on their grades.
To aid seniors in making the decision of whether or not to take their final exams, they will be given their final quarter grades in each class on Thursday, May 17. After seeing this, seniors are to decide whether or not to opt out, and if they do choose the opt out policy, they must fill out an online form for each class whose final they are opting out of. If they don’t fill the form out but don’t show up to take the test, they will receive a zero on the exam rather than an exemption.
“I’m glad that they’re making [final exams] optional in their traditional sense,” said Zan Hitchens, senior. “However, for seniors in AP classes, many teachers already give their own cumulative before the AP test, meaning that we do have to take our ‘optional’ final. For kids that want to take their senior final, even if they aren’t forced to, the conflict with AP testing makes it harder to study.”
However, because the grades must now be finalized on May 17, there will be four additional days when senior classes will continue, up to the last day of finals testing, where students’ necessity to attend class and participate is completely eradicated. Because the grades will be finalized, there is nothing a student could or could not do and be penalized for, in terms of academic achievement.
“This policy will leave me, and all other senior teachers, with four days of having to teach kids who will have no kind of motivation, making what will happen really ambiguous,” said Mrs. Fratella, social studies teacher.” I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know if people are going to show up and, if they do, whether or not they will do anything. I know for sure I won’t be able to do the lessons I wanted to do before. And if I plan an assignment and they refuse to do it, technically they won’t be penalized, yet I will have wasted my energy for no reason.”
Yet, regardless of these concerns, the administration has expressed their gratitude toward senior teachers who are changing their plans and reconfiguring their schedules for the end of the year. Many teachers have also moved what used to be on the final exam into their fourth quarter assessments, such as a practice AP exam which would have counted as a final in the years past.
“Faculty has been supportive of the decision to try out this new plan,” said Ms. Hurt, assistant principal for curriculum. “I am appreciative of their professionalism and being open to the conversations this year.”