Exam exemption policies need an update

Students now have the opportunity to request exam exemptions – provided they meet certain grade and attendance criteria.

While the privilege to exempt seems fair and helpful, the criteria needs an update. 

While the policy reads three absences and three tardies equals the ability to exempt up to three exams with a sliding grade scale corresponding to the amount of tardies and absences allowed. But some students are finding the attendance codes that determine exemptions as clear as mud.

It appears as though, there are more codes that count against students rather than codes that can be waived for exemptions. The instances that absences will not count against exemptions are college visits, field trips, school business, AP exam days, and a required doctor’s note. A few questions remain burning in the back of students’ minds. How do excused absences play into exemptions? Why do they count against students? Why is three the number chosen for exemptions, absences, and tardies? And which specific codes count towards exemptions without having to be appealed?

As a whole, both unexcused and excused absences count against a student’s ability to even request an exemption. If an absence is excused and permitted for a valid reason, why should it count against a student wanting to exempt a class they already have an A or B in? If any student gets sick, they could be out for three plus days for that time period alone, depending on the severity. If COVID taught us anything, it’s that sometimes it’s best to stay home and get well – with regard to any illness. Right now, if a student gets sick, they have to hope they get sick on a weekend to allow themselves adequate recovery time and still preserve exemption status. Every student will undoubtedly experience being sick, especially in a crowded public school. Students who are eager to skip that hardcore science exam might be inclined to show up to school sick just to maintain their exemption status.

NEISD needs to consider allowing students to have five absences – unexcused or excused, no questions asked. This will allow students to fully recover if they get sick, or take a day as needed. If a student is truly lacking in a class, their grade will reflect it. If the school wants to cater to students’ needs – physical, emotional, and mental – the attendance policy regarding exam exemptions should be altered accordingly. 

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