With semester exam week less than a month away, the exam exemption request window will open up December 5 at 7 a.m. through December 7 at 4:30 p.m.
“In Skyward, you go and there’s the globe, and you click on that and there’s an app they built for exam exemptions specifically. So, you have to make sure you have your Skyward set up, and it’s through your student portal,” Assistant Principal Sara Moseley said. “When you get in there, take your time, think about it, because there are instructions.”
The amount of exams students can exempt depends on their semester grade and number of absences and tardies. Up to three exams can be exempted if the student has zero absences and an 80-84, one absence with an 85-89, two absences with a 90-94, or three absences with a 95 or above. The system grays out classes that can’t be exempt and allows you to select the courses you are able to exempt.
“You have to select all three at one time. Then you hit submit,” Moseley said. “Don’t hit submit and then go back and try to do them again, because you’re locked out of the system.”
Attendance is a determining component of whether or not exemptions are possible. With the system from before COVID being back in place, both excused and unexcused absences count against exemptions and are limited based on grade. A written note from a parent will count against exemptions, but a required doctor’s note will not.
“If you have a doctor’s note that requires you to be out of school, it gets coded differently,” Moseley said. “If your mom decides you’re sick, because that’s what moms do, or dads, and they say you are sick and you’re staying home today, that’s an excused absence from a parent, it is not a doctor’s note. It’s a little different.”
Unexcused absences, extenuating circumstances, ISS placement, and off-campus suspensions also count against exemptions. They are coded as E, H, I, U, and X’s in Skyward. However, some absences will not affect the ability to exempt – required doctor’s notes, meetings, school business, college visits, AP testing, going to court, and up to five days for COVID.
“You need to make sure you’re turning in your notes to attendance so they are coded correctly. There’s a lot of different attendance codes – excused, unexcused, doctor visit, school business, so make sure you get those notes in now,” Moseley said. “Don’t wait until the exemption window.”
Students with questions or concerns about attendance should contact their designated assistant principal. Additionally, absences can also be appealed in Skyward in the exam exemption window.
“So, if you’re going to select three, you’re going to enter three appeals and then hit submit. And we should be sharing a video, I think the district is creating one, so it’ll be new for everyone, even me,” Moseley said. “And then the appeal committee reviews it, and that’s here in the front office. We review those requests and then let students know if the appeal has gone through or not.”
The ability to exempt exams may also be impacted by the types of courses a student is in. AP classes cannot be exempted the first semester, and dual credit or OnRamps courses cannot be exempted at all. Certain classes tied to certifications cannot be exempted, such as phlebotomy or engineering.
“There’s one or two other classes – we have one called college prep for English and math,” Moseley said. “Those give you the credit when you pass the class at the college level, and the test is so you don’t have to take the test at the college level, so you can’t exempt those either.”
Teachers are required to enter in and finalize semester grades on Sunday, Dec. 4, so grades will be locked and frozen in Skyward before the exams. And if a student’s attendance or grade fluctuates outside of guidelines after they have already exempted, their exemption may be revoked.
“I always help students in the window, but when that window closes to be equitable for everyone, that’s it. We send [information] out a lot of different ways – to students, to parents, teachers, and constantly remind – so it’s really important to get that done in that window,” Moseley said. “And, I would caution, get it done at the beginning of the window, because then let me know there’s a technical problem or you can’t get onto your student site.”
Regarding the exam schedule itself, periods four, five, and six will be split into a 35 minute lunch and 35 minute study hall. Students will report to their assigned room based on alphabetical order.
“If you’re absent for an exam, you may not take exams early. If you’re absent, of course, if your parents deem it and you’re gone or you get sick or you break your leg that day, you can make those up,” Moseley said. “We have it written in there as January 6.”
Students that are not available for the makeup date should coordinate with teachers to take the exam before or after school within the two weeks after winter break is over.
“It’s very important so we can see students have been successful in understanding everything from that semester. I also think it prepares students if they’re moving on to any type of college, because sometimes you get three grades and that’s it,” Moseley said. “Making sure we understand content and the importance of that type of grade.”
According to Moseley, exemptions are not required and should be viewed as a privilege for academic achievement and integrity.
“And what it is is we want to reward the students that have worked so hard, that have kept their grades up, that have been in school when they’re supposed to be, to be able to exempt three exams within the guidelines to maybe help them as they finish up the school year not have to study as much for those finals, because they can carry the grade that they have into the final grade,” Moseley said.